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Legal Ethics

Former PI Lawyer Gets 2 Years for Taking $200K Out of Client Trust Account

Posted Mar 29, 2012 1:52 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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After his wife discovered he is gay and told their children, Steven Helm said he had an hour to pack his things and go.

As he struggled to deal with a fog of depression in the aftermath of losing his home, his marriage and his relationship with his children, he took $200,000 from a trust account for the people he represented in personal injury cases, the 47-year-old testified in federal court in Virginia.

The Viriginia State Bar has revoked his law license, and Thursday he was sentenced to two years in prison for mail fraud and tax evasion, the Roanoke Times reported.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Wilson noted that the two-year term is below sentencing guidelines, but said he had taken Helm's lack of criminal background, cooperation and repayment of the missing money in not giving Helm more time.

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