A Nashville attorney recently admitted to stealing nearly $1.3 million from three of his wards after being appointed conservator by the court to oversee their finances. John E. Clemmons, 66 years old, ended up spending much of that money on several gambling sprees at casinos spread across five different states.
Last Friday, Clemmons appeared in court before Judge Steve Dozier taking a plea deal that resulted in a combined sentence of 18 years on three counts of theft in addition to TennCare fraud and perjury. Clemmons had faced at least a 30 year sentence on the theft charges alone before the plea deal. Clemmons could be eligible for parole after serving approximately six years.
One of Clemmons’ victims had been the now deceased father of a disabled woman. Much of the missing money was to be placed into a special account for her care. Additionally, Clemmons had already pled guilty to stealing $60,000 from a fourth ward in Rutherford County.
In each case, Clemmons had been appointed conservator for wards that the courts had concluded were unable to look after their own affairs. Each of these individuals did not have anyone else to look after their financial affairs and well being. As a result, Clemmons was supposed to be handling each of their financial affairs. Clemmons had been appointed conservator each time by a different judge.
While Clemmons is cooperating in the investigation, each of the victims is left without large sums of money ranging from $172,506 to $771,009. Under the plea agreement, each victim will first collect restitution from bonds posted by Clemmons. Unfortunately, the bond amounts are much less than the amount stolen in this case. Each victim will then receive some restitution from the Tennessee Lawyers Fund for Client Protection, a fund that is backed by fees imposed on lawyers. However, that fund caps recovery at $250,000 for all cases against a single attorney. Any money still due would be Clemmons’ responsibility. In addition, Clemmons is facing civil suits in an attempt to recover any money lost.
With such a negative story, it is important to know how you can avoid such a situation. There are ways to protect your loved ones through a number of legal documents. A power of attorney is one legal document that can grant a trusted loved one the ability to make legal decisions or oversee finances on your behalf. The power of attorney can be customized to grant a wide array of powers. It is important that every person have a power of attorney in case it is ever needed.
If you have questions about protecting the interests of your loved one, be sure to contact a Tennessee Wills and Probate attorney at The Higgins Firm. Our team of lawyers would be happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding the protection of your loved ones.