While sentencing Rodney Matheson, 70, on Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Bruce R. Cohen also ordered that Matheson repay more than $1 million to an attorney representing the Mayo Clinic, and ordered him to "not engage in any service or assistance in or related legal services for any purpose whatsoever.''
Cohen also placed Matheson on probation on a fraudulent schemes and artifaces conviction for seven years, a term that begins when he is released from prison.
Prosecutors accused Matheson of orchestrating an elaborate shell game by taking money from two estates to satisfy a court order for payment of $800,000 to the Mayo Clinic, the major beneficiary of a third estate, according to court documents.
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The theft occurred between November 2005 and August 2013, while the fraud occurred between March and August of 2013, according to court documents. Matheson pleaded guilty in November 2014 to the theft and fraud charges in return for three other counts being dropped, according to his plea agreement.
Matheson, of Queen Creek, was disbarred in September 2013 after an investigation by the State Bar of Arizona and arrested by Gilbert police in February 2014.
At that time, he was charged with two counts of fraudulent schemes and two counts of theft, with investigators accusing him of misappropriating as much as $6 million.
Matheson also was accused of stealing $1.2 million from the estate of Dorothy Thomas, whose estate stipulated that the money be turned over to the University of Arizona Foundation for cancer research in memory of her late husband, David, according to court records related to the civil case. Documents said the foundation never received the money.
The case against Matheson started to emerge when Mayo Clinic filed a civil suit to collect $1.2million left to the hospital as a beneficiary by the Mary Jane Schalow Trust. Judges were not satisfied with Matheson's answers when they demanded to know what happened to the money.
A Gilbert attorney who traced the misappropriations while examining the probate accounts eventually was ordered to turn over the evidence to the State Bar and to the Gilbert police, leading to Matheson's disbarment and eventually to his arrest.
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Disbarred East Valley attorney sentenced to prison in probate theft case