An Attorney Gets What He Deserves

September 12, 2013 § 3 Comments

I posted here before about the reprehensible conduct of attorney — that’s former attorney — Michael J. Brown, who was jailed for embezzling money — a lot of money — from a guardianship account. Now Brown has been sentenced to prison for his misdeeds. Here’s how the Clarion-Ledger reported it:

A former Flowood attorney has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for embezzling more than $1.2 million from the guardianship account of the grandson of the late civil rights leader Aaron Henry.

Michael J. Brown, 56, was convicted of two counts of embezzlement in Rankin County Circuit Court. He was sentenced to 40 years in prison, with 10 of those years suspended.

A Rankin County grand jury indicted Brown after Hinds County Chancery Judge Dewayne Thomas asked the district attorney’s office to look into the case. Last year, Thomas ordered Brown jailed for contempt for allegedly mishandling the $3 million inheritance of De Mon McClinton.

McClinton couldn’t be reached for comment Thursday.

Thomas said Brown used McClinton’s inheritance money as his own. “He misappropriated $1.2 million, and it looks like he embezzled at least $240,000,” Thomas said.

Thomas ordered Brown to repay the $1.2 million and to repay $398,000 in attorney fees he received from the account.

“There is no greater trust than that between a lawyer and his client,” said Michael Guest, district attorney for Madison and Rankin counties. “Brown was an officer of the court, whose sole purpose was to protect the interest of the minor child.”

Brown, who practiced law since 1994, has been disbarred. He testified he cashed some of the checks, but said the money was given to McClinton’s guardian or to benefit the then-minor. But Brown admitted he had no court order to take money out of the account. No money was supposed to be taken from the account other than $3,000 a month for the guardianship of McClinton at the time.

The McClinton case began on June 16, 2000, when a petition was filed in Chancery Court for Thomas McClinton Jr. of Jackson to become guardian of his son, then-16-year-old De Mon McClinton. De Mon McClinton had lived with his mother, Rebecca Henry, who was Aaron Henry’s daughter, in Clarksdale until her death. Once she died, more than $6 million was split between her two sons.

The guardianship case was closed in 2005, but in 2009 De Mon McClinton, then an adult, asked that the case be reopened.

No further comment necessary other than to point out as I have before that it is cases like this that have chancellors across the state being quite vigilant over accountings,

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§ 3 Responses to An Attorney Gets What He Deserves

  • […] posted here, here, here, here, and here about the unfortunate guardianship of Demon B. McClinton, who inherited more than $3 million […]

  • randywallace says:

    The Brown/McClinton matter was obviously several years ago and technology was not as advanced at that time. With the advent of electronic filing it should be much easier for a Chancellor to obtain a list of guardianships where money was ordered deposited into an guardianship account and have a clerk or court administrator check the electronic file to make certain those banking receipts are in fact filed as required by the Court.

    Had McClinton’s money gone into a guardianship account and the bank signed a receipt for funds and acknowledgment of the Court’s order restricting withdrawals or transfers from the account without a court order, it would have been much more difficult for Brown to steal the money.

    As it was, Brown left chancery court with a big check or checks. He never deposited the checks into a restricted account as required and evidently was never called to task for it until McClinton reached majority.

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