Saturday, December 31, 2016

Disbarred Over Ten Years Ago For Mishandling Client Cash, Sleazy Ex-Lawyer Cops Guilty Plea In Unrelated Matter, Getting At Least 58 Months In Prison For Fleecing At Least $300K While Acting As Trustee Over Funds Designated For Frail Cancer Survivor's Medical Needs

In Forsyth County, North Carolina, the Winston-Salem Journal reports:
  • Over a four-year period, Robert Keller Leonard, a former lawyer disbarred 10 years ago partly for mishandling a client’s money, embezzled at least $300,000 from a trust account for a 61-year-old man who had survived cancer and needs oxygen to live, a prosecutor said [] in Forsyth Superior Court.

    A bounced check from the trust account to buy oxygen for the man led to a lawsuit and eventually a criminal investigation. A Forsyth County grand jury indicted Leonard [] on three counts of embezzlement and one count of obtaining property by false pretenses. The indictments said the alleged crimes happened between 2011 and 2015.

    On Tuesday, Leonard, 72, of Park Ridge Lane pleaded guilty in Forsyth Superior Court to those same charges. Under the plea arrangement, Judge Susan Bray of Forsyth Superior Court consolidated the charges into one and sentenced Leonard to four years and 10 months to six years and 10 months in prison. He also was ordered to pay $300,000, which was made into a civil judgment against him. It’s unlikely that Leonard will ever be able to pay the entire $300,000, but his Social Security benefits will be garnished when he is released from prison.
    More than a decade ago, Leonard was accused of mishandling a client’s money, which in part led to his getting disbarred in 2005. According to court documents, he represented a woman on a personal injury claim and won a $52,000 settlement without filing a lawsuit. He put the money into a trust account. Leonard was accused of writing a number of checks from that account to himself. He also used the money for his benefit and the benefit of other clients, the court papers said.