Bartlett attorney steals money from fund meant for orphans

By Janice Broach - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A Bartlett attorney is accused of stealing $76,000 from a fund meant for orphaned children and spending it all at a Tunica casino.

James Hoots was charged with stealing the money from the estate of two young children, a brother and a sister, 6 and 8 years old respectively.

The children's estate came about after their father murdered their mother then shot himself in a restaurant.  The mother had filed for divorce.

According to police reports, the incident occurred at Willie Moffatts in 2005.  The children's mother, Amber Shelton, was inside when her estranged husband came in and shot her then himself.

The children's grandmother, the administrator of their estate, discovered the money was missing and confronted Hoots.

Hoots admitted to the grandmother that he had a gambling problem.  He claimed he took the children's money to Tunica in hopes of making more money.  Hoots then gave a promissory note to the grandmother for $76,000.

The grandmother hired attorney Bill Simmons, who said the act of stealing money from children is reprehensible.

"Nobody likes filing a complaint against a brother professional," Simmons said, "but in this case it seems highly justified.

Simmons has also filed a complaint against Hoots with the Tennessee Bar.

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