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Attorney sentenced to prison

Jeff Van Natta • Jun 18, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced today that a Preble County attorney was sentenced to spend time in prison after an investigation found that he stole more than $200,000 from multiple residents while acting as their financial guardian.

Visiting Judge Neal Bronson today sentenced James Thomas Jr., 38, of Brookville, to 4.5 years in prison and ordered him to pay $208,094.65 in restitution to the victims.

Thomas was charged in April with three counts of theft from an elderly person or disabled adult and three counts of falsification after an investigation conducted by the Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) found that Thomas took hundreds of thousands of dollars from four victims' bank accounts between 2007 and 2013. 

According to investigators, Thomas admitted to stealing a portion of the funds to support an addiction to ephedrine.

"The victims in this case trusted this attorney to safeguard their finances, but this defendant thought only of himself, stealing their money little by little until it added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars," said Attorney General DeWine.  "People with disabilities and our elderly residents should be treated with respect, especially by those whose job it is to help them.  I am pleased that this individual will have time to reflect on his actions in prison."

The victims, who range in age from 41-72, are all Preble County residents.

The case was prosecuted by Attorney General DeWine's Special Prosecutions Section, and investigators with the Preble County Sheriff's Office assisted in the investigation.

In an effort to increase the investigation and prosecution of elder abuse cases in Ohio, Attorney General DeWine announced in May the formation of a new Elder Justice Initiative within the Ohio Attorney General's Office.  Through the Elder Justice Initiative, the Attorney General’s Office will work with local officials and advocates to identify, investigate, and prosecute elder abuse cases and increase services to victims.

Reports of the possible abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation of an elderly Ohioan can be made to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling (800) 282-0515.

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