by Brian Mahany
Although I still believe the practice of law is a noble profession, the ambulance chasers and ethically challenged members of the Bar keep us pretty far down in public opinion polls. This story from Tennessee is not going to help change that undeserved reputation.
Paul Porter and his son Joe built up a multi-million dollar empire selling cars in Tennessee. Before they died, both men turned to long time friend and attorney Gary Vandever. Now prosecutors say that Vandever embezzled $500,000 from the estates of both the father and son.
According to press reports, Vandever pled guilty to his crimes and is serving a 1 year sentence. He was also ordered to pay $527,000 in restitution. Recently the Tennessee Supreme Court revoked Vandever’s license to practice law.
This might have been the end of a very sad story. But now a lawyer for the mens’ estates say Nashville CPA Tom Price should also be held responsible.
Lawyers say that Price received overly inflated fees and essentially looked the other way as lawyer Vandever looted the estate. Price is not accused of taking any of the stolen monies; instead the family says he aided and abetted the fraud by keeping quiet and ignoring obvious red flags in the handling of the estate.
Price has denied the allegations.
Lawyers and accountants are paid to protect their clients; not steal from them or overlook obvious fraud for fear of rocking the boat. Even if Price didn’t steal from the Porters’ estate, aiding and abetting the fraud can still land him in hot water. Price could be on the hook for millions in damages and also lose his CPA license.
By their very nature, the dead and dying make excellent targets for economic crime. Quite simply, there is no one to fight back and older people are often too embarrassed to report crimes to police. They can often also be easily coerced. Concerned family members are sometimes the only line of defense.
If you are the victim of an estate fraud or believe that someone has wrongfully coerced a loved one to change their will, help is available. The trick in inheritance fraud cases is to move quickly. It’s always easier to keep the playing field level and freeze assets than it is to later get money back from a fraudster. A second advantage is that by quickly freezing funds, many fraudsters simply don’t have enough money to prosecute their claims against the estate.
If you believe that a loved one was coerced into changing their will, give us a call. Our fraud lawyers have helped people from Maine to California get back their hard earned money.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and coming soon San Francisco, California. Fraud recovery available in many jurisdictions.
Need more information? Our Due Diligence blog has a search engine located in the upper right hand corner. For more information on specific fraud topics, just type in the key words “estate fraud” or “probate fraud” in the search bar. We have many informative articles on our site.