Criminal Justice

Former BigLaw attorney pleads guilty to stealing from estate

  • Print

money and gavel

Image from Shutterstock.

A suspended Memphis, Tennessee, lawyer has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud for stealing $124,000 from the estate of a former client.

Leigh M. Chiles, 49, of Little Rock, Arkansas, pleaded guilty Friday, according to Law360 and a March 17 press release.

Chiles was formerly a lawyer with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. The law firm told Law360 that Chiles is no longer with the firm and was not working there at the time of the crime.

“These matters do not relate to or involve our firm in any way,” a spokesperson told Law360.

Chiles had worked at Baker Donelson through at least November 2017, according to Law360, which cited information from the Baker Donelson website. She was suspended from practice in July 2018.

While at Baker Donelson, Chiles focused on litigation under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, according to the Memphis Daily News. The article said Chiles was a shareholder at the firm, which she had joined in 2005.

The July 2022 indictment alleges that Chiles stole from the estate of John Paul Mummert after she was appointed executrix in September 2018. Chiles had prepared Mummert’s will before his death.

Chiles was accused of embezzling from the estate by writing checks to herself or by using estate money to pay her personal credit card and a second credit card for a business in which she was an investor. The plea agreement requires restitution.

Sentencing is scheduled for July 17.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.