Legal Ethics

Lawyer Jailed for Extorting Wife's Lovers

Sentenced this week to five years in prison for extorting money from men who had affairs with his wife, a Texas attorney was unrepentent. “It is incredible to me after I sought protection from the law that … I face sentencing without having committed a crime,” Ted H. Roberts, 50, told a San Antonio judge, calling his trial a “pretense of due process.”

Evidence introduced at his March trial showed that he “squeezed $155,000 from an accountant, a lawyer and two executives,” by threatening lawsuits that would have informed their families of their philandering, reports the San Antonio Express-News. Not all of this conduct resulted in criminal convictions, however. A teacher also claimed in the sentencing phase that Roberts offered her free representation if she told him “deep, dark” sexual secrets about well-to-do residents.

In remarks from the bench, District Judge Sid Harle described the prosecution as, at heart, “a simple theft case” – albeit one whose victims were less than sympathetic. He indicated he might change Roberts’ sentence to probation, if the attorney donated the money he extorted to charity, the newspaper reports.

Felony convictions, of course, typically trigger attorney discipline for lawyers, the newspaper notes, and “I don’t understand why lawyers take a chance” by filing dubious or risky lawsuits, Harle says. He offered this advice to the other attorneys in the courtroom: “If there’s any question, walk away from it.”

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