A former paralegal is facing 234 felony forgery charges after prosecutors say he confessed to faking New York state judges' signatures on 117 documents at a personal injury law firm. The worker, Thomas Rubino, allegedly confessed to the fraud, spanning the years 2010 to 2013, telling the Manhattan District Attorney's Office that lack of supervision at the firm Paris and Chaikin and growing pressure to turn around structured settlement documents quickly drove him to cut out the part of the process where he was supposed to get judges to sign off.

"I made the forged orders when I felt overwhelmed with work," Rubino said, according to prosecutors. "I was motivated out of fear that the work wouldn't get done."

Structured legal settlements allow recipients to receive recurring payments rather than a lump sum, often with tax benefits and savings for the payer. In his taped confessions, Rubino said he was doing the work of three people, and was expected to send settlement orders to courts for approval within 24 hours of receiving them. He said the followup calls required to judges were impossible for him to do alone, but complaints to his boss went nowhere.

The structured settlement income was crucial to his firm's operation, he said, and a desire to keep his coworkers employed and help needy clients also pushed him to keep going. To accomplish the forgery, he allegedly said he would simply cut out a judge's signature from a legitimate document, tape it to the order needing a signature, copy the page, then scan and email it to the client company. He always knew he'd be caught, but felt his only option was suicide, and wanted to put it off, according to prosecutors.

"I knew I was going to get caught and I thought I was going to have to kill myself," he supposedly said. "I didn’t kill myself because I thought it was going to destroy my girlfriend."

Rubino also told investigators he falsely claimed to his bosses and girlfriend that he was attending New York Law School, saying it was the only way he saw to avoid working 'til 8 or 9 at night. About lying to his girlfriend, he said, "I didn’t want her to be part of the lie so my only option was to lie to her as well."

The alleged forgery ruse began unraveling in August of 2013, when a company hired by an investor to get rights to someone's annuity payments called to find out why he had been denied the money. The following month, an upstate judge wrote demanding the firm appear in court to explain where an order with his or her signature came from. Within weeks, Rubino purportedly told the firm his uncle had died, put his cellphone on a train bound for Connecticut, and caught another one to Philadelphia.

Rubino talked to prosecutors in April and May of last year, but was not arrested until yesterday. His lawyer did not immediately return a call for comment, nor did Paris and Chaikin. In Rubino's alleged confession, he said his bosses were not aware of his scheme. Each of Rubino's charges carry as many as seven years in prison.

"I recognize that what I did was wrong," Rubino allegedly told prosecutors. "I'm not trying to paint myself as a saint."