GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A disbarred attorney from Coldwater has pleaded guilty after being accused of stealing from a 95-year-old law firm client, according to the attorney general’s office.
The Michigan Department of Attorney General said 63-year-old James O’Briant pleaded guilty Monday in Kalamazoo County’s 9th Circuit Court to four counts of larceny, $20,000 or more, and two counts of taxes-failure to file/false return.
O’Briant, who was previously disbarred, had access to the victim’s money while he was working under a licensed attorney, according to the AG’s office. The licensed attorney, who had a representation agreement with the 95-year-old victim, was temporarily holding the victim’s money in the law firm’s trust account to keep it safe, the office said.
O’Briant transferred the money to the law firm’s business accounts and then transferred it again “for his own purposes,” the AG’s office said — including more than $40,000 to his personal investment accounts. He didn’t report the stolen money on his taxes in 2018 or 2019, according to the office.
Under the plea agreement, the attorney general said O’Briant will need to pay about $154,500 to the victim by the end of April, and he will also be required to pay slightly under $13,600 in restitution to the Michigan Department of Treasury. If the terms are met, the AG’s office said the plea agreement will let O’Briant be sentenced on one count of larceny, $20,000 or more, and one count of taxes-failure to file/false return, while dismissing the other charges.
O’Briant is scheduled to be sentenced May 6 in the 9th Circuit Court, according to the AG’s office.