Attorney Gets 42 Months in Club Fed for Defrauding Law Firm Credit Line Lender
Posted Jul 10, 2012 11:36 AM CDT
By Martha Neil
When attorney Mikel D. Jones, obtained a multimillion-dollar credit line from a New York venture capital firm in 2006, he agreed to use the money on legitimate law firm expenses.
But instead Jones, 56, and his wife, Dona Nichols Jones, 54, paid off personal credit card debt and purchased tickets to Philadelphia 76ers basketball games. Federal prosecutors say they used fraudulent invoices from a company they controlled and another business to document, falsely, that goods and services had been provided to the Philadelphia law office Jones owned and operated when they had not, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal and the Philadelphia Tribune.
They also were accused of laundering around $160,000 by putting it in Florida bank accounts for Dona Jones and another relative, and then used that money to repay funds Mikel Jones had withdrawn from his law firm's trust account, the Inquirer article says. The couple reportedly got around $350,000 from the line in 2008 and 2009.
Jones, who was a longtime former aide to U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., and was running the Philadelphia personal injury law practice at the same time he was working for Hastings, was convicted in November, along with his wife, of federal crimes related to the couple's use of the law firm line of credit, according to the Pulp blog of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
He lost his job with Hastings when he was convicted by a federal jury in Philadelphia and his Florida law license was suspended temporarily last week by the state supreme court, pending further action. Hastings suspended Mikel Jones from his job when federal charges were filed earlier in 2011, notes a Sunshine State News blog post.
His law license is listed as active on a Pennsylvania Supreme Court website.
On Monday, Mikel Jones was sentenced to a 42-month prison term by a federal judge in Philadelphia, and Dona Nichols Jones, who helped in the law firm's operations, got one day, as a Philadelphia Inquirer article details.
Both were convicted in November of conspiracy, money laundering and 14 counts of wire fraud; Mikel Jones was also convicted of 14 counts of mail fraud.
U.S. District Judge Berle M. Schiller also is requiring Mikel Jones to pay $457,743.75 restitution and Dona Jones to pay $358,995 restitution.
The articles don't include any comment from the defendants or their legal counsel.
Philadelphia Inquirer (Aug. 2011): "Philadelphia lawyer's fraud case shines light on troubled city program"
Washington Post (Oct. 1989): "Senate Removes Hastings"