Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Former probate attorney pleads guilty in embezzlement case

Former probate attorney pleads guilty in embezzlement case

Editor's note: Your ProbateShark feels that the new A.G. may wish to check out our list for prospective indictments within the Probate Court of Cook County. Our probate crooks would not bother with the chicken feed that this Oaky embezzled.  Lucius Verenus, Schoolmaster,
Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2016 12:01 am | Updated: 12:56 am, Wed Nov 16, 2016.
A former probate attorney admitted Tuesday to embezzling more than half a million dollars from clients whose estates he once managed. Christopher Ivor Mansfield, 38, admitted he took a total of about $587,030 from nearly a dozen estates he handled during a three-year period ending in October 2015.
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Federal prosecutors charged Mansfield on Sept. 28 with one count of bank fraud and one count of unlawful monetary transaction in connection with the scheme.
U.S. Attorney Danny Williams said Mansfield opened bank accounts in the name of the estates in order to deposit, disperse and transfer funds.
Williams said Mansfield used the money for personal expenses and to fuel a “substantial” cocaine habit.
Following the hearing Tuesday in Tulsa federal court, Williams said the legal profession should be concerned when attorneys steal from their clients.
“I believe that they should be dealt with harshly and we’re going to seek a significant sentence in this case,” Williams said.
The bank fraud count carries a maximum 30-year prison term and maximum $1 million fine, while the money laundering count carries a maximum 10-year prison term and a fine “which may be well over $1 million,” said Chief U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell, who presided over the hearing.
Williams said it was believed that Mansfield’s scheme started prior to 2013, but the statute of limitations prevented prosecuting acts that occurred more than three years ago.
Frizzell asked Mansfield during the hearing about reports that he once had a “$2,000 to $4,000” drug habit.
“Is that per week, per month?” Frizzell asked.
“Per week,” Mansfield replied, also telling the judge that he has been clean since seeking in-patient treatment on Nov. 20, 2015.
The criminal investigation by the IRS and FBI came about after probes by the Oklahoma Bar Association and Tulsa County probate court found irregularities with estates under Mansfield’s control, officials said.
At the time of the alleged crimes, Mansfield was an Oklahoma-licensed attorney who was court-appointed in probate cases.
He served as a personal representative in probate cases and was responsible for overseeing the financial affairs of multiple probate estates.
Williams said earlier that none of the funds had been recovered and indicated it would be a “challenge” to recoup the monies.
Nevertheless, the plea agreement calls for Mansfield to make restitution totaling $587,030, representing the amount taken in the scheme.
One of the Mansfield’s victims told Frizzell Tuesday that the experience had been “very traumatic” for his family.
“It is beyond my comprehension that someone could do this to a family,” said David Cox, whose mother’s estate is due $5,223 in restitution from Mansfield.
Frizzell set a sentencing date of Feb. 15 for Mansfield, who is free on an unsecured bond.

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