Monday, November 20, 2006
Attorney General Abbott Hails Lengthy Sentence Handed Down Against Ex-Attorney In Estate Theft CaseCORPUS CHRISTI - Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott hailed a jury’s 45-year sentence handed down today in a Nueces County criminal fraud case against Colin Kaufman, 59, a disbarred attorney. He was found guilty last week of a first-degree felony for cleaning out much of the estate of elderly coma victim Col. Arthur Wilson Carothers.
Kaufman and accomplice Andrew Huffmeyer, 56, who pleaded guilty last week to misapplication of fiduciary property, conspired to divert about $400,000 from Carothers’ estate, which was valued at about $960,000. The jury today also fined Kaufman $10,000.
“We are grateful this jury is sending a strong message that financial abuse of the elderly is a serious crime and will not be tolerated,” said Attorney General Abbott. “This defendant showed nothing but cold, calculated resolve as he worked to clean out the trust fund of this elderly client who died not long after falling into a coma.”
Huffmeyer will serve five years in prison for the crime but also testified in last week’s trial against co-conspirator Kaufman. Visiting District Judge Joaquin Villarreal III presided over the trial.
Carothers, who had been a client of Huffmeyer’s before 2002, was hit by a truck and fell into a coma. As a result of the accident, Carothers also had to have a leg amputated. An attorney who drafted Carothers’ will and trust testified for the state that fees for the services the two purported to provide should not have exceeded $17,000.
The two conspired with others to defraud Carothers and his estate, running up exorbitant expenses. As part of this scheme, the two billed the estate $49,000 for a trip to the northeast to change a signature card for estate management purposes, typically a simple and inexpensive legality. They also worked with others to charge Carothers’ estate more than $260,000 for conferences that were usually held at Corpus Christi restaurants.
Evidence presented during the trial proved that Kaufman was disbarred by the State Bar of Texas due to his unethical and illegal actions in a federal bankruptcy case. Kaufman was ordered to pay back $214,000 to the trust in this bankruptcy and later was ordered to pay the State Bar more than $40,000 in restitution for the cost of litigating his law license.
Indiana University Foundation and the United Methodist Church of Mulberry, Ind., were to be the primary beneficiaries of Carothers’ estate.
Assistant Attorneys General David Glickler and Shane Attaway prosecuted this case, with assistance from Nueces County Assistant District Attorney George Schimmel. The Attorney General took the case at the request of Nueces County District Attorney Carlos Valdez.