Sunday, May 21, 2017

Employee-Wife Gets 3 Years For Glomming $2.3 Million In Real Estate Closing Proceeds From Law Firm Trust Account While Employer-Hubby Avoids Criminal Prosecution, Keeps Law License After Bar's Public Reprimand (ie. Hand-Slap)

In Columbus, Georgia, the Ledger-Enquirer reports:
  • Sonya Eddings was sentenced to three years in federal prison Monday [April 10] afternoon, more than five years after her family and world crumbled under the weight of a scheme to steal $2.3 million from the law firm trust account of her then-husband, Michael Eddings.

    She told U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land that she took responsibility for her role in the scam that involved millions of dollars passing through the real estate closing trust account of Michael Eddings’ law firm over a four-year period from 2007 to October 2011. But she also said that he knew of the indescrepancies in the trust account.

    Sonya Eddings and their daughter, Candace Eddings, who was 16 when the scam was discovered, told the court they wanted to save their family and they were manipulated by Michael Eddings in an effort to preserve his law license.

    “His whole point was to protect his law license — no matter what,” Sonya Eddings told the court of her motivation for taking the blame for the scheme.
    Michael Eddings, now remarried and a criminal defense attorney working primarily in Atlanta and Columbus, was never charged with any crime. Since October 2011, he has maintained his innocence, saying he had no knowledge of the scheme and that his then-wife was solely responsible for the missing money.

    In December 2016, the Georgia Supreme Court handed Michael Eddings the lightest possible professional punishment for the funds missing from the firm’s trust account. He was ordered to receive a public reprimand and was allowed to continue to practice law without suspension or disbarment.
    Sonya Eddings, who has been living with an aunt in Philadelphia, was her husband’s office manager and was transferring money related to real estate closings from the trust account, then moving it to separate accounts for two failing food-service businesses the couple owned.
For the story, see In emotional sentencing hearing, Sonya Eddings explains role in $2.3M scheme.
(1) The Clients' Security Fund of the State Bar of Georgia was created for the purpose of maintaining the integrity and protecting the good name of the legal profession by reimbursing to the extent deemed proper and feasible by the Board losses caused by the dishonest conduct of members of the State Bar of Georgia. Go here for eligible claims. See generally, Part X of the State Bar Rules. Attorneys from the State Bar of Georgia Office of the General Counsel act as staff for the Clients' Security Fund. For more information regarding the Clients' Security Fund, please call 404-527-8720.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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