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Attorney faces charges of mail, wire fraud

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A federal grand jury in Hammond has indicted a Schererville attorney with two counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud after being accused of stealing money from two clients.

William G. Crabtree II is alleged to have embezzled nearly $1 million from the two clients. According to the indictment filed Oct. 15, Crabtree represented in 2005 an estate, from which he embezzled at least $300,000; he also allegedly failed to pay its state and federal taxes. After the theft was discovered, he agreed to pay restitution to the estate, including interest and penalties for taxes.

The indictment also alleges Crabtree devised a scheme this year to defraud and obtain money and property from another client in order to pay the restitution from his 2005 incident.

Crabtree's law firm trust account held $1.8 million from a client he represented in the sale of a restaurant, and Crabtree was instructed to hold the money until the client could purchase another restaurant. In July, Crabtree was to wire $1.7 million for the purchase of another restaurant; instead, Crabtree only wired $168,721. He wired $746,300 from the firm's trust account to another lawyer's trust account to make restitution. Crabtree also allegedly wrote himself a check from the restaurant client's funds for $135,000. In August, Crabtree admitted to the client he didn't have the money in the fund but would obtain a loan to repay the client.

Then, Crabtree allegedly faxed a copy of a check for $1.2 million to the client's attorney claiming he obtained a loan; the check was a fake.

The charges are a result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Because of the charges, the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed a petition for an emergency interim suspension Oct. 15 against Crabtree, said Executive Director Donald Lundberg.

Crabtree was arrested and arraigned Oct. 16 and pleaded not guilty, said Mary L. Hatton, public affairs specialist in the U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Indiana. His trial has been set for Jan. 5, 2009.

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

  5. Can I get this form on line,if not where can I obtain one. I am eligible.

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