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Press Release

Bristol Attorney Sentenced for Stealing from Law Firm

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Virginia
Tony Michael Hutchinson to Spend Four Months in Federal Prison

ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – A Bristol, Virginia man, who stole more than $160,000 from his employer, was sentenced today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon.

Tony Michael Hutchinson, 52, previously pled guilty to a one count Information charging him with wire fraud. Today in District Court, Hutchinson was sentenced to four months of federal incarceration and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $160,647. He will serve two years of supervised released following his prison term.

Hutchinson, a bankruptcy attorney, worked for a law firm out of its Bristol, Virginia office and, after the Bristol office was closed, its Kingsport, Tennessee office.  Hutchinson was the only lawyer in the firm who actively practiced bankruptcy law and the bankruptcy practice was somewhat separate from other operations of the firm.

When clients retained the law firm for the purpose of filing bankruptcy petitions on their behalf, Hutchinson collected initial payments from them ranging from approximately $500 to $1,000.  Those payments were supposed to be used, among other things, to pay bankruptcy filing fees.  Hutchinson should have deposited those initial payments into the firm’s trust account and then used that money to pay bankruptcy filing fees.  From 2007 through 2012, Hutchinson charged an additional $50 fee per client to cover expenses and kept those fees, totaling over $60,000 for himself.

Beginning in approximately 2013, Hutchinson received the initial payments from clients as cash and blank money orders, did not deposit the funds into the trust account, did not record the payments on the firm’s books, and used most of the money for his personal purposes.  In 2013 and 2014, Hutchinson stole over $70,000 from those funds.  To keep the scheme going, Hutchinson used the firm’s credit card account to pay the client’s bankruptcy filing fees in the bankruptcy court for the Western District of Virginia.  Through the scheme, Hutchinson fraudulently used the firm’s credit card for more than $70,000 in bankruptcy filing fees that should have been paid from the initial payments collected from clients.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the United States Secret Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.

Updated September 1, 2015

Financial Fraud