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  • Writer's pictureRobin Lyons

Pure Garbage

A once prominent attorney who defended high-profile cases ended up being the defendant in his own case which sent him to prison for years. One victim stated at the trial,

“I was manipulated by a master con artist.”

Because of the status he’d built over the years, his wealthy clients and friends trusted him. It’s no secret the rich want to get richer. And they do that by investing. When the somewhat famous attorney pitched his business asking for investors, his friends and clients were all-in.

His new venture used technology to convert garbage into ethanol, or so he said. In reality he used the investors’ money to pay off his mounting court costs for other crimes, pay off his back-taxes, used for personal expenses like the private jet he purchased, pay alimony to his ex-wife, and shared the money with his son—who was in on the scheme.

When the attorney called, he’d asked for millions of dollars. He shared updates on the ‘waste-to-energy’ project that included Stakeholder Reports and Year-End Reports. All the documents were pure garbage and a component of the conspiracy.

Occasionally, he’d communicate with specific investors to announce an exciting turn that always required more capital. He’d start his email with,

“You are a true friend and demonstrate it in meaningful ways all the time….In order to accomplish the tasks necessary to complete this deal, [the bogus business] estimates that it will require an additional capital infusion of $1 million.”

And then he’d close with,

“Because of your demonstrated loyalty and trust….”

Turns out he’s a born salesman both in person and in writing, who could probably sell anything. He relentlessly pursued more money through manipulation.

The scheme lasted seven years. After his arrest, the attorney opted for a jury trial and represented himself. The jury found him guilty on seven-counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy. A District Judge sentenced him to five years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release and to pay $14 million in restitution.

In the state where the attorney lived prior to incarceration, the State Bar suspended his license to practice law. Reinstatement would be up to the State Bar’s Disciplinary Commission.

The son also chose a jury trial. His jury found him guilty of one count of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. The same District Judge, who sentenced his father, sentenced him to over 2 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release and join his father in the restitution payment.

The FBI Special Agent in Charge said,

“The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute those who commit complex financial crimes.”

Be sure to email me if you hear of a true-crime you think would be good in a book. I’ll research it, share it and possibly use it in one of my novels.

And if you are an author interested in this true-crime as inspiration for a plot, email me. I’m happy to share more information about the case.

Source: U.S. District Court, U.S. Department of Justice, Alabama State Bar, Oxygen True Crime

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