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Indicted former attorney found dead before trial

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A former attorney set to go on trial yesterday was found dead in his home. The jury trial for William Crabtree II, who was indicted on two counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud, was scheduled to begin Monday morning before Judge Rudy Lozano in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division.

Dyer police were called to Crabtree's home around 4 a.m. Monday and contacted the Lake County Coroner's office to determine the cause of death. Chief Deputy Coroner Jeff Wells said there were no signs of foul play and the cause of death is pending toxicology tests.

Crabtree was indicted in October 2008 after being accused of stealing money from two clients. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.

The charges stem from an estate he represented in 2005, from which he was accused of embezzling 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 alleged Crabtree devised a scheme last year to defraud and obtain money and property from another client in order to pay the restitution from the 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 2008, 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 2008, 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 Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission filed a petition for emergency interim suspension the day he was indicted; Crabtree resigned from the Indiana bar in December 2008.

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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