Former Attorney Gets Probation for Cheating Orphan Boy
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Though she could have been sent to prison for 4 ½ years, former Upper Arlington attorney Lindsey T. Burt received only probation and community service for stealing the benefits of a 7-year-old boy who lost his mother. Burt stole the death benefits intended for the child for over five years by forging documents to appear as if she was the child's guardian. However, the Franklin County judge who sentenced her decided that community service was enough in the matter as Burt has, so graciously, surrendered her law license and made restitution, after being caught.
Even though, repeatedly, Assistant Prosecutor Kimberly Bond pointed out to judge Beatty that Burt had not surrendered her license in connection with the case before her, but in an unrelated case where too Burt was involved in the abuse of a client's trust and money, the judge turned a deaf ear. The judge also did not permit Cmdr. Robert Meader of the Columbus police property-crimes bureau to read a statement recommending prison sentence for Burt. The written victim-impact statement of the father of the child was also not read in court.
Common Pleas Judge Laurel Beatty placed Burt on probation for five years and warned that if Burt violates the probation she would be sent to prison for three years. The judge said that her lenient decision was also taken in the light of a lack of previous criminal record of the accused, and that, because she was no more a lawyer, she can't hurt or victimize anyone else. The judge was entirely convinced that if someone has never been caught before for crimes it means that person did not ever commit crimes, and if a person was not a lawyer, he or she could not victimize any one.
Beatty emphasized that Burt's crime as an attorney "has not put anyone else at risk."
However, she reminded Burt, "You cheated a child out of money."
In the instant case, the parents of the child were not formally married. When the mother of the child died, Burt was supposed to have the father appointed as the guardian of the child at the probate court. Instead of doing that, Burt altered a document to make herself appear as the child's guardian and sent the document to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, where the child mother had been an employee.
By her act, Burt was able to draw the death benefits from April 2008 to April 2013, totaling $67,183. The retirement system kept depositing the money in Burt's personal savings account.