White-Collar Crime

Ex-Attorney Antes Up $250 from Garage Sale, Gets 4.5 Years in Client Theft Case

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Last month, when a Florida judge delayed sentencing ex-attorney Jessica Miller in a client theft case, he offered a hint about what she might do in the meantime to win a more lenient punishment: Pay back some of the money.

Today, when the 32-year-old Miller showed up in court again, her attorney announced that she did indeed have money in hand—a total of $250 from a recent garage sale, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Michael Andrews sentenced her to four-and-a-half years in prison, followed by 10 years of probation. She also must repay $70,000.

She pleaded guilty in March to four counts of grand theft concerning funds she and her paralegal took from client trust accounts for personal spending sprees and money paid for legal work that was never performed. Miller said little in court today but has previously blamed her paralegal, Kristen Collins Lausburg, for mishandling the firm’s money, saying that she herself was unaware of what was happening with the accounts.

Andrews didn’t buy it. “It wasn’t like you made a mistake. It wasn’t like you didn’t know. It wasn’t like someone lied to you,” the judge told Miller today. “You were a full participant.”

Lausburg is to be sentenced later this month. As Miller also did, she faces a maximum prison sentence of 40 years.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “As Attorney Went on Trust Account-Funded Spending Spree, Client Slept in Car, He Tells Judge”

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