Sunday, July 23, 2017

Seeking Harsher Penalties For Sleazy Lawyer Suspected Of Pilfering $1.9 Million From Unwitting Clients, Local Prosecutor Gets Feds To Step In, Take Over Criminal Prosecution

In McCracken County, Kentucky, The Paducah Sun reports:
  • A Paducah personal injury attorney accused of stealing more than $1 million from clients will soon face federal charges.

    James Grant King, 43, of J. Grant King Law, is charged in McCracken County with three counts of theft by failure to make required disposition of property, $10,000 or more, in two separate cases.

    But Commonwealth Attorney Mark Blankenship said the U.S. Attorney's Office has expressed interest in the case and will proceed next week with federal charges. "When I got to looking at what the feds could do in this case versus what I could do -- I mean this guy stole more than $1 million from his clients -- and in the federal court systems they have charges related to mail and wire fraud," Blankenship said.

    "So I called over there and told them … all I can do is stack up these (Class) D felonies, which aren't going to amount to much, and I asked them to take a look at it and they agreed."

    In the federal system, Blankenship said, King is likely to face harsher penalties than he would in the state system.

    "In the federal system, he'll most likely serve a decent amount of time," he said.

    "In the state system, our case would have most likely have capped out at about 20 years and he would have been eligible for parole after he'd serve 15 or 20 percent of that, so he might have served four years," Blankenship said. "But under the federal system - where there is no probation and there are guidelines regarding the amount of time a person serves - he could end up serving twice that time, which is more in line with the kind of theft we're talking about."

    The charges against King stem from a months-long investigation that began when a local couple reported King had failed to pay them $93,000 collected from an accident settlement.

    King was initially arrested on April 27 and charged with two counts of theft. A third charge was filed the next day after a second victim reported King failed to pay $17,500.

    Since then McCracken Detective Matt Carter estimated 33 additional victims have come forward with proven complaints.

    Carter said the total monetary amount involved in these cases has reached approximately $1.9 million.

    Of that, "about $1 million is tied to cases that have already resulted in charges or cases that are currently being investigated," he said.

    Blankenship said King has already waived his right to grand jury indictments on both the state and federal level. By doing so, he said, King is basically acknowledging he would most likely be indicted and agreeing to "proceed by information."(1)

    "The defendant basically is agreeing that the prosecutor himself can bring the charges," Blankenship said.
    Then, the commonwealth attorney said, he will start the process of dropping the state charges, though he plans to dismiss them with prejudice, meaning they could be filed again if necessary.

    "This is really one of the worst attorney theft cases I've seen," he said. "The public already doesn't have a very good opinion of lawyers, so when this kind of thing happens, it really hurts the profession. But what's really sad is these clients put their trust in this attorney to get them the best settlement possible, and everything that they were entitled to under the law is gone. It's just terrible."
Source: Attorney to face federal charges.

For the U.S. Attorney news release, see McCracken County, Kentucky, Attorney Charged With Defrauding Clients of Insurance Settlements.
(1) See U.S. v. King. ripoff reimbursement