Before he sentenced Joe T. Buerkle to prison, Missouri appeals court Judge Gary D. Witt called the former local lawyer's actions reprehensible.
Buerkle, a former Cape Girardeau and Jackson lawyer who stole $325,000 from a client's trust fund, was sentenced to serve seven years in prison, but not before pleading to be assigned probation and allowed the opportunity find employment and begin paying restitution.
The state, represented by Dunklin County Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Sokoloff, and Stephen Wilson, Buerkle's attorney, both acknowledged that Buerkle has paid $54,000 in restitution and has a $30,000 cash bond that could also be used.
"With God's help I can do this, but I have to have a record I can walk into a potential employer with," Buerkle told the judge at the Common Pleas Courthouse in Cape Girardeau. "I'm ashamed to be here. As a prosecuting attorney, a city attorney and a practicing attorney, I held the crime I'm charged with as one of the worst."
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