White-Collar Crime

Paralegal Bought Elderly Lawyer's Law Practice for $20

A California paralegal has been sentenced to two years in prison for inducing an 84-year-old lawyer to sell his law practice to him for $20.

The lawyer, who wasn’t named, was suffering from early-stage dementia, the Orange County Register reports. Paralegal Mario David Abernathy of Garden Grove was sentenced after pleading guilty to felony grand theft from an elderly person, the story says.

District Attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami told the newspaper that Abernathy befriended the lawyer last year and gave him $20 as a down payment for the law practice valued at $750,000. Escrow closed on the practice, transferring it to Abernathy without any further payments.

The lawyer also signed a power of attorney giving Abernathy control of his assets and changed his will to benefit Abernathy’s mother and daughter, Emami said.

The documents transferring the law practice, estate and finances were declared null and void and Abernathy was ordered to pay $15,300 in restitution, the story says. The article describes Abernathy as a paralegal without formal training.

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