Friday, August 10, 2018
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court accepted the consent disbarment of a convicted attorney.
As reported by Penn Live
Saying "you should have known better," a federal judge sentenced a Columbia County attorney to 18 months in prison for his part in ring that distributed million of dollars worth of synthetic marijuana.
"It's regrettable for me to sentence a member of the bar," U.S. Middle District Judge Matthew W. Brann Monday told Clyde Kevin Middleton, 59, of Orangeville.
"I know what I did was wrong," said Middleton who will lose his license to practice law.
The sentence also includes a $1,000 fine and a year of supervised release after the jail term. Brann ordered Middleton to report to prison on April 11.
He has been ordered to forfeit $121,097 seized from his law firm's bank account that prosecutors say are the proceeds of illegal activity.
Middleton chose self-interest over the law, Assistant U.S. Attorney George J. Rocktashel said in arguing for a two-year jail term.
Middleton pleaded guilty in September to a charge of conspiracy to introduce and deliver misbranded drugs.
He, seven other individuals and four businesses were accused of being part of a multi-million dollar bath salts, synthetic marijuana and incense distribution network based in Philadelphia and Bloomsburg.
The government estimates $192,902 of the proceeds from the illegal activity is attributable to Middleton.
His link was Paul Chomiak, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to conspiracy to commit money laundering and another count but has not been sentenced.
Chomiak, who in 2009 began selling the designer drugs commonly known as bath salts and spice, operated two "head shop" stores in Bloomsburg and several Internet websites.
He paid Middleton $100,000 to represent him upon learning he was under investigation but the lawyer admitted the association went beyond an attorney-client relationship.
He acknowledged storing in his law office for Chomiak several boxes of synthetic marijuana, and later returning them so the contents could be available for sale.
"He got too close to the flame," Brann said in repeating what defense attorney, G. Scott Gardner, had written in a sentencing brief about his client.
Middleton helped Chomiak conceal money from sales by putting the money in his office's operating account, Rocktashel said.
He developed, with the assistance of co-conspirator Lindsay Lee-Lampshire of Kalamazoo, Mich., a website called "Head Shop Law," he said.