Friday, November 8, 2019

Ex-attorney jailed for theft

Brumbaugh, 64, stole from handicapped victim’s trust

By Melanie Yingst - Miami Valley Today

MIAMI COUNTY — A former Miami County attorney is spending 30 days in jail as part of his sentence for stealing trust funds from a mentally handicapped woman.

On Tuesday, Miami County Common Pleas Court Judge Stacy Wall sentenced former Troy attorney Jeffrey Brumbaugh, 64, now of Sedona, Ariz., to serve 30 days in county jail and five years of community control. He was ordered to pay $94,000 in restitution to the victim, or $1,567 per month, for the next five years. He also was ordered to surrender his law license to practice in Ohio.

He also was ordered to pay a $7,500 fine and not to have access to financial records for his new business — a tourism company in Sedona. Judge Wall reserved up to three years of prison if Brumbaugh violates any conditions of his community control.

Judge Wall said Brumbaugh’s conduct was “completely inexcusable” since he was in a position of trust for the 56-year-old incompetent woman to whom the trust was in his care. The victim’s father left two properties, a vehicle and $600,000 to care for the woman after his death in 2011.

“You took advantage of someone who was vulnerable,” she said. “There’s no integrity to what you did.”

As part of a joint recommendation between the state and Brumbaugh’s attorneys, the state dropped four of the six indicted charges, including first-degree felony conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity, second-degree felony conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity, second-degree felony theft and first-degree felony theft.

On Tuesday, Brumbaugh entered an Alford Plea to one count of third-degree money laundering and one count of fourth-degree theft. An Alford plea is a guilty plea in criminal court in which a defendant doesn’t admit to the criminal act, yet fears the consequences of the original charges.

Prior to sentencing, Brumbaugh said he had no intent to keep the victim’s funds over a long period of time. His counsel claimed Brumbaugh may have had “questionable management of funds,” but had no “nefarious plans.”

Prosecutor Tony Kendell said it was the state’s wish to make the victim financially whole again. Kendell said his office spent numerous hours working with the forensic accountant to investigate the misappropriated funds.

“This is the best avenue to get to where we want to go,” Kendell said.

The victim’s court appointed guardian, attorney and advocate Judith LaMusgah, spoke on behalf of the victim. She said the victim was diagnosed with autism, anxiety and is a diabetic. The vicitim was found incompetent and needs daily support for the rest of her life. LaMusgah said Brumbaugh’s actions as a fellow attorney were “astounding, shocking beyond belief.”

She said not only was the woman a victim, but the victim’s deceased father was a victim, as he had left the assets to Brumbaugh to care for the victim and provide her support. She said once it was found Brumbaugh drained the accounts, the victim lived on $800 a month. She said the victim would have lived comfortably for the rest of her life had Brumbaugh not been entrusted with her financial care.

Prior to sentencing, Wall highlighted Brumbaugh’s attempts to cover up his financial trail. She said Brumbaugh contacted relatives while in jail following his arraignment in October 2018 asking them to transfer car titles, funds to an LLC and to drain bank accounts. She also noted he sent a social media message to his son stating $100,000 would be shipped to him soon. He also gave a woman tens of thousands of dollars to renovate a home in the victim’s name, but the work was never completed.

She also noted Brumbaugh was paying employees in cash before closing his practice and “disappearing to Arizona” with no warning to clients whose files were never were found. After moving to Arizona, he had a mailing address in a strip mall and it took some time to locate him prior to his arraignment. Judge Wall found Brumbaugh expressed no remorse for his actions. She also asked Brumbaugh what happened to the victim’s car, which he said his son had abandoned in Nevada.

The Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely suspended Brumbaugh from practicing law on May 25, 2017, and he was ordered to cease and desist practicing law. Brumbaugh also failed to respond to a formal complaint before the Supreme Court’s disciplinary counsel submitted on Sept. 9, 2016.

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Ex-attorney jailed for theft

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