Friday, June 02, 2006

Attorney Steals $349,000 From Client And Gets Probation

Sullivan Co. attorney Julia Johnson-Sheffler plead guilty in Sullivan Superior Court to stealing $349,000 from a client trust account. The Daily World reports:

As part of the plea agreement, the former attorney will avoid going to prison; instead, she will spend two years on probation.

The plea agreement was taken under advisement by Superior Court Judge Thomas Johnson, and he ordered a pre-sentence report to be prepared by the probation department. A sentencing hearing is set for 10 a.m. June 29.

Hmmm. Do the words "two forms of justice" come to mind? Even Brad Hiller, the campaign consultant who stole about half as much from the Indiana Senate Republican Committee, had to spend a few months behind bars. A hat tip to the Indiana Law Blog for catching this one.


Anonymous said...

I would expect her to lose her license to practice law. I do not know enough about Mr. Hiler to know if he was an attorney or not, but if not then this could effect a difference in treatment.

Advance Indiana said...

Hiller wasn't an attorney, and she did give up her license. That's not the purpose of my comment. It's the idea she could get caught stealing that kind of money and not be required to do time in prison.

Anonymous said...

That is for sure. No jail time for what amounts to grand larceny. Is she going to have to repay this man his money with interest?

Anonymous said...

Julia Sheffler is my aunt. She just got sentenced to 4 years in prison, 2 years suspended. She has paid back all the money she took. This story about the probation was for Vigo County, not Sullivan County where she committed the crime. Just wanted to make sure that you do realize that she did pay the money back and she is serving her time.

Advance Indiana said...

Thank you for that update. I take it the judge did not accept the prosecutor's plea agreement?

Anonymous said...

I am an engineer and not a lawyer and do I pretend to understand the whole system and legal terms, but the way I understand it is that yesterday(6/29)was her criminal case hearing and that her lawyers and the prosecutor did not think that the judge would be very lenient on her, so they agreed that she would plead guilty to the criminal charges in exchange for the 4 years with 2 suspended. I believe that what she got was what was offered by the prosecutor and that the prosecutor knew that this was probably the minimum that the judge would accept. I remember hearing that the original charges could lead to a 6 - 8 year prison term, so the 2 years was the deal.

She is my aunt and was found guilty of a crime, so I am not going to make excuses for her. I am a total believer of doing right and paying for your crimes. But I guess I just don't understand the legal system sometimes. How does someone who paid back all the money and gave up her license get 2 years in prison, yet you hear stories every day of drunk drivers who kill people, people plotting murders, and people who embezzle millions of dollars who sometimes get probation, community service, etc.? It seems like the system is out of balance at times.

Anonymous said...

Here is the story I found on her sentencing.

"Former Sullivan County lawyer heads for prison"

Julia Johnson-Sheffler left the Sullivan County Courthouse on June 29, headed for at least one year in prison for the theft of funds from the estate of Ann Klapper.

Under terms of a plea agreement, Sheffler pleaded guilty to one count of theft, a class-C felony. In a civil case in Sullivan Circuit Court in the same matter, she was found to owe $349,113.79 in principal to the Klapper estate. She had repaid $340,899, while her bonding company paid an additional $100,000.

Superior Court Judge Thomas E. Johnson also ordered Sheffler to pay an additional $8,214.68 to the Klapper estate under terms of the civil ruling.

In return for her guilty plea, Sheffler received a four-year prison sentence, with two years suspended. With credit for good behavior, Sheffler will serve one year. She will also be on probation from Vigo County for two years after her release and must pay a $100 fine, plus court costs.

She has resigned from the Bar of the Indiana Supreme Court and can no longer practice law.