Mike Berlon, attorney and former chairman of the Georgia Democratic party, has entered a guilty plea to charges of defrauding legal clients.
The 55-year-old, set to be sentenced May 6 and possibly facing jail time, agreed in a plea deal signed last week to pay more than $2 million in restitution to 14 victims. Berlon, who was reportedly pressured into leaving the party in 2013 by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, took the money under the false pretense that he would create trusts for them and instead used it for personal expenses, authorities have said.Mike Berlon. Credit: Georgia Democratic Party
On his way to a hard legal and financial fall, Berlon reportedly used the money for his American Express bill and repaying other clients.
Initially, Berlon pleaded not guilty and had been scheduled to go to trial March 9. In the deal, he pleaded guilty to one count of fraud with the understanding that the other 13 counts would be dropped, so long as he made things right financially with the other victims.
According to the plea, Berlon faces punishment ranging from probation to 20 years in prison when he goes before Judge Thomas W. Thrash, Jr. at 10 a.m. May 6 in Atlanta.
Berlon, who is free on bond, and his attorney didn’t immediately return calls for comment Tuesday.
The case against the fallen political player stems from incidents between 2008 and 2013, one year before he surrendered his license to practice law in Georgia after his firm reportedly mishandled a medical malpractice case. Bankruptcy followed for the firm.
Charges in the indictment also accused that Berlon told the victims he would help them get a loan, took down payments and used the funds for his personal expenses and debts.
Originally posted by Joshua Sharpe on gwinnettdailypost.com.
Defrauding Legal Clients – Ball & Bonholtzer Trial Attorney – Los Angeles