Ex-lawyer gets probation for $700K theft; judge won't put 'ailing septuagenarian in jail to rot'

A Miami-Dade judge refused to send a once-prominent Miami lawyer to prison on Friday, saying a sentence of probation will allow the defendant to pay back $700,000 stolen from victims.

The disbarred lawyer, 76-year-old Guy Bailey, was sentenced to six years of probation and ordered to repay the money, the Miami Herald reports. The story says the decision angered the victims and prosecutors.

Judge Milton Hirsch of Miami-Dade Circuit Court said in his sentencing order (PDF) that Bailey once “stood at the very pinnacle” of local commercial litigation lawyers. Bailey cannot repay the money in prison, Hirsch said. “What pride can a just and a decent society take in a criminal justice system that tosses an ailing septuagenarian in jail to rot while making no provision for his victims?” Hirsch wrote. “Incarcerating Guy Bailey would be an exceptional burden and expense to the Florida Department of Corrections and no Floridian would derive a jot of benefit for it.”

Hirsch warned that he could send Bailey to jail if he refrains from making restitution despite having the means to do so.

Bailey was convicted of first-degree grand theft in March for bouncing checks he wrote to his clients for settlement money obtained in a suit over a disputed life-insurance policy. Bailey had contended the money was a loan.

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