Edinburgh man admits faking his relatives’ multi-million pound will

Paul Coppola. Picture: Lesley Donald
Paul Coppola. Picture: Lesley Donald
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A man faked a relative’s multi-million pound will in a bid to cheat a charity out of a “colossal” legacy.

Paul Coppola, 65, received a payout from his second cousin’s estate by forging the deceased man’s signature.

He later told police he did not agree that the money should be left to humanitarian charity Medicins Sans Frontieres.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard that he had known Desiderio Coppola all his life and they had a close relationship.

Mr Coppola had signed a will in July 2010 appointing a friend and his solicitor to act as his executors in the event of his death.

The will bequeathed various amounts among friends and family. It also left the residue of his estate to Medicins Sans Frontieres which provides medical aid in war torn regions and developing countries.

But the court heard that in October the following year just days before Mr Coppola’s death a new “will” appeared which purported to bear his signature.

Fiscal Ann MacNeill earlier told the court that when Mr Coppola died in 2011 his estate was valued at approximately pounds £7 million.

The fiscal said: “The accused explained that he found out that the deceased was due to leave the majority of his wealth to charity and that he had persuaded the deceased to change his will. He said the deceased had agreed to change the terms of his will.”

In March 2013 Coppola received a property in Raeburn Place, Edinburgh, which was estimated to be worth £250,000 and he sold it weeks later for £290,000. He also received a further property in the city’s Waterloo Place.

Later that year lawyers acting for Mr Ferrard contacted Medicins Sans Frontieres to inform them of concerns that had been raised.

Coppola admitted to officers that he had forged the signature of his relative. He claimed that the contents of the new “will” reflected the wishes of his relative. He said he regretted his actions.

Coppola previously admitted that between October 9 in 2011 and October 25 in 2013 at Royal Park Terrace, Edinburgh, and elsewhere he obtained £300,000 and two properties by fraud and attempted to obtain the residue of the deceased’s estate. Sheriff Frank Crowe deferred sentence on Coppola. He said: “It’s a colossal amount involved here in the attempted fraud. The court has to consider that at the end of the day.”