Clients accuse Memphis attorney of stealing their money - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Clients accuse Memphis attorney of stealing their money

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - A Memphis attorney who testified last year against a partner who stole from clients now faces accusations that he stole as well.

Phoebe Copeland claims in a lawsuit that J. Richard Rossie stole more than $346,000 from her after she granted him power of attorney to handle her estate.

Copeland hopes to block any settlement between Rossie and Darrelle Miller, another client who is suing the attorney, claiming Rossie stole more than $1 million from her.

Rossie's attorney, James Wilson, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.       Copeland's attorneys argue that a settlement with Miller would make Rossie insolvent and unable to pay Copeland.

Chancellor Arnold Goldin has issued a restraining order temporarily preventing Rossie from distributing any money.

According to a financial statement, Rossie is worth $3.85 million, but Copeland's attorneys say much of that is immune from judgment.

Copeland is accusing Rossie of taking her money by writing at least 42 checks to himself between August 2000 and June 2007, using funds from the law firm's escrow account. He then deposited the money in personal accounts at various banks, the suit alleges.

Rossie is a former partner of John Houser Parker who pleaded guilty last year to stealing nearly $2 million from clients and was sentenced to 22 years in prison. Rossie testified against Parker at a sentencing hearing.

State prosecutor Steve Crossnoe would not say whether he is considering criminal charges against Rossie.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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