Monday, June 11, 2018

A Lot Of Money For A Country Lawyer: A "Professional Criminal"

An attorney who pleaded guilty to theft had his attacks on his sentence rejected by the Tennessee Supreme Court

At all times described herein, [the Defendant] was an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee, that he was acting in that capacity when he received money from and/or on behalf of his clients who are the victims identified in [C]ounts 1 through 6 of the [i]ndictment.

[The Defendant] admitted his unlawful conduct before the Board of Professional Responsibility, and he has been disbarred as of October 3, 2016, by Order of the Tennessee Supreme Court...

The State did not file notice of any enhancement factors prior to the June 27, 2017 sentencing hearing. However, at the sentencing hearing, several victims provided impact statements. The State read into the record a letter from Kelly Ray, a representative of the Estate of Lois Faile. Ms. Ray stated she was humiliated and embarrassed and that the Defendant “preyed on the weak.” She stated, “Unfortunately, I cannot change the past, but the [c]ourt can rectify the past by issuing a sentence that involves prison time.”


Here, although the Defendant has a consistent record of employment, the trial court found that the Defendant’s six thefts between 2009 and 2015 totaled nearly  $500,000, which “is a lot of money for a country lawyer and amounts to a ‘major source of livelihood’ for at least six years.” During his allocution, the Defendant stated that he “took funds [he] shouldn’t have” because his “family began to have financial problems.” This admission supports the trial court’s finding that the Defendant used the stolen funds as a “major source of livelihood” and was therefore a “professional criminal.”

...the evidence does not preponderate against the trial court’s finding that the Defendant had an extensive record of criminal activity because he committed numerous acts of theft over several years. Therefore, the imposition of consecutive sentences was proper.


the trial court acted within its discretion in applying the sentencing factors, imposing consecutive sentences, and denying alternative sentencing. The trial court imposed an in-range sentence for a standard offender. The record shows that the trial court stated its reasons for imposing mid-range sentences, followed the statutory sentencing procedure, made findings of fact that are adequately supported in the record, and gave due considerations to the relevant sentencing principles. The trial court sentenced the Defendant to an effective fourteen-year sentence for his six convictions for theft, a sentence consistent with the purposes and principles of sentencing and within the appropriate range. Based on our review, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in ordering mid-range sentences within the applicable range, nor did it “wholly depart” from the purposes and principles of sentencing. Therefore, the judgments of the trial court are affirmed.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that he was a city court judge.

He was disbarred in a series of court orders.  Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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