Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Edward W. Hearn, and Counsel, Christopher J. Grabarek, secured an extremely positive outcome for an Indiana attorney who was charged with stealing her client’s settlement proceeds – a level five felony carrying a maximum six-year prison sentence. In this case, the Indiana attorney (our client) was retained to represent a Gary Police Officer in an auto accident where the officer was injured while working for the Gary Police Department by a third party on March 23, 2014. Our client quickly settled the case in July of 2014 and obtained a settlement of $88,750. Our client deposited the settlement proceeds into her Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA). However, bank records showed that the attorney removed the money from her IOLTA account in multiple transactions. The issue raised by the defense was that the attorney did not receive the final workers compensation lien information and therefore the Indiana attorney could not disperse the settlement proceeds to her clients without the final lien information. Prior to jury deliberations, the prosecutor’s office made it clear it was not open to any plea other than one of guilty to the level five felony. The jury deliberated for close to two hours before delivering a guilty verdict on a lesser offense of conversion -- a Class A misdemeanor.
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