Lawyer Charged with Defrauding Elderly Client
ATLANTA – Attorney Bennett L. Kight was arraigned on a federal indictment today charging him with mail fraud while serving as a trustee and manager for assets, investments, and real estate owned by one of his clients.
“Kight was trusted to properly manage assets and investments belonging to an elderly client,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “This indictment alleges that he instead misappropriated $2 million from her by orchestrating a sham real estate transaction involving his former personal residence.”
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: Kight is a lawyer licensed to practice law in the State of Georgia since 1966. Kight represented F.B. and members of her family, as well as serving as a trustee and manager for assets, investments, and real estate owned and held for the benefit of F.B. and her family.
In January 2006, Kight used his responsibility over F.B.’s assets to misappropriate approximately $2 million from accounts owned by or held for the benefit of F.B. Kight used the money he took from F.B.’s accounts to pay off the $500,000 mortgage on his former home in Atlanta and to fund investments for his benefit. Without informing F.B., Kight obtained the money by purporting to sell F.B. his former home. To facilitate the sale, Kight formed and used two limited liability companies that were supposed to hold title to the house for F.B.’s benefit. However, no deed transferring Kight’s former home to F.B. or these companies was publicly recorded, and Kight later dissolved these companies.
Kight’s son ultimately moved into the property Kight allegedly “sold” to F.B. and caused a back dated deed to the property to be prepared and publicly recorded on March 21, 2011. The back dated deed purported to show that an entity owned and controlled by Kight had owned the house since July 2005, which was several months before Kight obtained $2 million from F.B.’s assets by allegedly selling her the property.
Kight, 75, of Atlanta, Georgia, was arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge John K. Larkins. He was indicted by a federal grand jury on March 16, 2016.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the FBI.
Assistant United States Attorney Douglas W. Gilfillan is prosecuting the case.
Today’s announcement is part of efforts underway by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Since fiscal year 2009, the Justice Department has filed over 18,000 financial fraud cases against more than 25,000 defendants. For more information on the task force, please visit www.StopFraud.gov.”
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.