Bad Lawyers

Patrick Buckley Claims Alcohol Caused Him to Steal Money from Clients

Buckley

Summary: A disbarred Florida attorney kept practicing law and stealing money from his clients because alcohol made him do it.

Alcohol makes people do a lot of things but that doesn’t make it a good excuse. Disbarred attorney J Patrick Buckley claims he did what he did because of alcohol. Buckley is accused of stealing money from clients, using a client’s insurance settlement to cover his actions and pay his house bill, and continuing to practice law without a license in Florida.

  
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Judge Ramiro Manalich did take Buckley’s alcohol abuse under consideration. However, he didn’t let that outweigh Buckley’s pattern of conduct. Several victims testified to Buckley’s “disregard of lawful authority.” He sentenced the former attorney to 10 years behind bars and five years of probation with credit for time served, which is about 10 months in the county jail.

Buckley’s misconduct became known in February 2015 when the News-Press noted that he had been suspended from practicing law in in the state of Florida. He had been known as a gun rights expert but is also a pro at delaying punishment, seeing as how it has been 23 months since charges were filed against him and his case is still not finalized. As soon as the sentencing hearing was over, his attorney had filed an appeal and a motion for a bond hearing. If a bond is approved and Buckley can pay it, he will be a free man until an appeal hearing.

The appeal was filed based on the sentence, which is five times longer than the probation department’s 25-month recommendation. The judge did not allow Buckley to withdraw a plea so a trial could be obtained. Buckley had pleaded no contest to first-degree felony theft of over $100,000, one count of scheme to defraud, a third-degree felony, and four third-degree felony counts of practicing law without a license. During the March hearing, 14 witnesses, some of which were victims, testified of the methods and effects of his actions.

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Assistant State Attorney James D. Miller wanted Buckley to receive 15 years in prison and 10 years of probation, still more than the pre-sentencing investigation recommendation. Miller said, “There was a continuing course of conduct, a scheme, and even after being suspended, Mr. Buckley was still looking out for number one.”

His attorney countered that if Buckley spent a long time in prison, he wouldn’t be able to pay restitution. He argued that Buckley did not have some “elaborate scheme” to steal money but suffered from a “simple, basic mishandling of funds.” Therefore his crimes did not justify a long incarceration.



Eventually, Buckley grew tired of his attorney and hired a new one, claiming his first attorney was incompetent. Buckley said in his motion to withdraw his plea that his first attorney failed to take depositions that he should have, never informed him that he was giving up his right to appeal, and told him he had no chance at trial but wouldn’t receive much (if any) prison time.

Even though Buckley had been an attorney for over 15 years, he was not a criminal law attorney so he claimed he did not fully understand what he was doing. The judge did not believe Buckley’s excuse or that he did not understand what pleading “no contest” meant.

The judge felt that Buckley was panicking because he not had succeeded in avoiding prison time.

Do you think Buckley understood what was going on and wasn’t happy about the prison sentence so he is trying any excuse he can find to be free? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about other disbarred attorneys, read these articles:

Photo: news-press.com



 

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