Disbarred Cedartown lawyer pleads guilty to defrauding clients
6:07 pm, January 8th, 2013
A disbarred Cedartown attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to defrauding more than 50 of his workers’ compensation clients out of settlement funds they were owed, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia announced.
Disbarred lawyer Miles Lamar Gammage, 59 – who lost his bar license last year — entered the plea to one count of mail fraud in U.S. District Court in Rome, said U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. Gammage had been a member of the State Bar of Georgia since June 1979, the U.S. Attorney said. He was a graduate of Cumberland Law School in Alabama, according to the State Bar.
Gammage specialized in workers’ compensation cases, often representing people who were seriously injured, Yates said. “This former attorney has now admitted his blatant and extensive misuse of his clients’ money,” she said. “By his own admission, instead of helping his clients receive the compensation that they were owed and that they needed for the treatment of their injuries, he used their settlement money for his own selfish purposes – and hurt people who were already hurting.”
Gammage’s attorney, Christopher Twyman, could not be reached for comment.
Federal prosecutors said that for four years from January 2008 to January 2012, Gammage converted more than $2.5 million of settlement funds intended for his clients to pay for his own expenses, including his law firm’s payroll and operating costs. As part of the scheme, Gammage would settle claims on behalf of clients without their authorization, fail to notify them that he had received their settlement checks, forge their names on settlement checks and deposit the funds into bank accounts he controlled, prosecutors said.
Gammage also commingled his clients’ funds with his own funds, refused to provide his clients with a full and accurate accounting of the disposition of their settlement money, and withheld settlement funds from clients for extended periods of time, prosecutors said.
If and when clients questioned Gammage about their cases, Gammage would blame what he claimed were settlement delays on others, prosecutors said. If clients insisted that they needed the money for medical bills and prescription drugs, Gammage would dole out partial payments which he labeled as cash advances or interest-free loans, prosecutors said.
In doing so, Gammage “lulled clients into a false sense of security” and prevented them from complaining to law enforcement authorities, prosecutors said.
Gammage voluntarily surrendered his law license last year after two complaints were filed against him by the State
Bar of Georgia alleging he had lied to clients, forged their signatures on settlement checks and used the money for himself.