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Disbarred Coldwater Attorney Sentenced for Stealing from Elderly Client of Law Firm

LANSING – Today, James O’Briant, 64, was sentenced to 120 days in the county jail and 36 months of probation in the 9th Circuit Court in Kalamazoo County before Judge Paul J. Bridenstine after stealing over $140,000 from a 95-year-old client, announced Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. He was also ordered to pay total restitution of $168,067.73.

O’Briant pled guilty to four counts of Larceny $20,000 or More and two counts of Taxes-Failure to File/False Return in October 2023. Under his plea agreement, he was required to pay $154,511.73 in restitution to the victim by the end of April and to agree to pay $13,556 in restitution to the Michigan Department of Treasury. In exchange, O’Briant would be sentenced on one count of Larceny $20,000 or More and one count of Taxes-Failure to File/False Return, and the remaining charges would be dismissed. However, O’Briant did not pay full restitution to the victim as required by the deadline and was sentenced on all six counts.

“Mr. O’Briant preyed on a client who entrusted his employer with her finances,” Nessel said. “This sentence is a testament that those who take advantage of their clients and have such blatant disregard for the law will be held accountable. My office will continue to protect our most vulnerable from thieves.”

O’Briant, a previously disbarred attorney, had access to the victim’s money through his employment under a licensed attorney. The licensed attorney had a representation agreement with the elderly victim and agreed to temporarily hold their money in the law firm’s trust account for safekeeping. O’Briant transferred the victim’s money from the trust account to the firm’s business accounts and then withdrew and transferred the money again to use for his own purposes. These transfers included over $40,000 to O’Briant’s personal investment accounts. O’Briant did not report the money he stole from the victim on his taxes in 2018 or 2019.


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