News and Press Releases

Memphis Real Estate Attorney Sentenced
To 41 Months For Defrauding Clients

November 14, 2012
Memphis, TN – Former attorney David J. Johnson, 72, of Memphis, TN, was sentenced today to 48 months imprisonment for defrauding former clients of approximately $1.7 million, announced U.S. Attorney Edward L. Stanton III. The sentence was imposed by United States District Judge S. Thomas Anderson, who also ordered Johnson to pay restitution in the amount of $1,746,429.20, and ordered that Johnson serve two years of supervised release.

Johnson entered a guilty plea in August to a one-count criminal information charging him with wire fraud. According to the information, Johnson primarily practiced real estate law, but also served as attorney and trustee for several estates. Johnson was required to maintain an escrow account, sometimes known as a "trust account," to keep his personal funds and funds used to operate his law practice separate from monies he held in escrow or trust for clients.

Beginning on an unknown date until approximately September 2011, Johnson stole client funds from one of several trust accounts and used the stolen funds to make loans to, or invest in, business entities in which he had a personal interest. In some instances he used funds held in trust for one client to replace funds stolen from another client. Johnson was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court effective November 25, 2011.

“David Johnson violated and irreparably abused the oath he swore to ethically and zealously represent his clients’ best interests. Instead, he selfishly represented his own criminal and corrupt interests of greed, violating his position of trust and dishonoring the legal profession,” said U.S. Attorney Stanton. “Today’s sentence of imprisonment and the penalties imposed upon Johnson by the court should send a clear message that such conduct will not be tolerated and that stiff and severe consequences await anyone who dares to act in a similar manner.”

This investigation was conducted by the FBI and the United States Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carroll Andre represented the government.

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