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Archive for Friday, July 8, 2005

Joplin lawyer pleads guilty to scamming clients

Clients defrauded of more than $500,000

July 8, 2005

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— A former Joplin attorney pleaded guilty Thursday to defrauding his clients of almost $512,000.

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith sentenced David Leon Taylor, 49, to two years in federal prison without parole and six months in home confinement. He also must pay $511,860 in restitution to his victims.

Taylor, who was attorney and sole shareholder for the Joplin law firm of Myers, Taylor and Whitworth until he was disbarred in 2003, pleaded guilty in March to mail and wire fraud and money laundering.

Authorities say Taylor took $316,610 from a trust account at the firm that was holding money for a client involved in the sale of an automobile franchise. They say he transferred the money to a series of bank accounts that covered the firm's operation expenses and used $25,934 to pay off the loan on a 1999 Lincoln Navigator.

In a second case, prosecutors said Taylor misappropriated $195,250 from the proceeds of two annuities meant to pay for the expenses of an estate and the estate's heirs. The client caught on when checks supposedly written on the annuities bounced.

In both cases, officials say Taylor lied to the clients when pressed about the money, saying he would clear up the problems even though he had already transferred the funds to the firm's accounts.

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