COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – A disgraced Belmont County attorney who stole more than $800,000 from an elderly client with dementia will spend five years behind bars.
Mark Alan Thomas, 63, of St. Clairsville, was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to mail fraud associated with his theft of $882,502 from an 86-year-old woman over the course of nearly eight years, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Kenneth Parker.
“The victim in this case was 86 years old, exhibiting symptoms of dementia, and living in a senior-care facility,” Parker said in a statement. “She trusted Thomas, and Thomas abused that trust to steal her money for more than seven years. His actions to take advantage of her were utterly shameful.”
From 2012 to 2019, Thomas erroneously used the victim’s Power of Attorney and his status as an attorney – even after his law license was revoked in 2015 – to deceive banks and life insurance companies into sending his client’s money for his own use, Parker said.
On one occasion, Thomas lied to a banker and claimed he needed $200,000 from the victim’s investment account to establish an educational fund on her behalf, Parker said. Instead, Thomas pocketed the money for himself.
In January 2014, he cashed in more than $290,000 of U.S. Treasury Bonds owned by the victim, then transferred $200,000 into his law firm’s bank account and later his own personal account, according to Parker.
Two years later, Thomas wrote letters – signed with his victim’s name – to three life insurance companies asking them to cash out the victim’s policies and direct future correspondence to Thomas.
Thomas was indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2021 and pleaded guilty in August 2022, Parker said.