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Judges order court to take second look at restitution attorney must pay

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A Monroe County attorney who pleaded guilty to Class D felony counterfeiting and ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to a victim may not have to pay that full amount after the Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday ordered the trial court to take another look at the restitution amount.

Bloomington attorney Philip H. Chamberlain was charged with five Class C felonies stemming from his involvement in the development of a golf course in Orleans, Ind., for which he was a consultant. The golf course was owned by Dwight Hart.

Chamberlain convinced acquaintance Shannon Ramey and his girlfriend Helen Fields, who own Dorothy Apartment Rentals, to invest money on behalf of their company into the golf course. Unbeknownst to Ramey, Fields or Hart, Chamberlain was cashing checks made out to the golf course and kept a portion of the money.

At one point, Hart loaned Chamberlain $5,000 for performing work as a consultant, money he never repaid.

At his sentencing and restitution hearing, Chamberlain explained he repaid Hart $25,500 before any criminal charges were filed against him. The trial court ordered him to pay Hart $15,000 in restitution, which included the $5,000 for the unpaid loan.

Chamberlain, pro se, appealed, claiming the loan shouldn’t be included in restitution because his counterfeiting conviction didn’t cover that incident. The Court of Appeals agreed in the not-for-publication opinion, Philip H. Chamberlain v. State of Indiana, 53A01-1305-CR-247.

“But because we do not have the transcript from Chamberlain’s guilty-plea hearing, we cannot consult the factual basis for his counterfeiting conviction to see what written instrument it covered. Without this information, we cannot determine the amount of restitution, if any, Hart is entitled to after taking into account that Chamberlain has already paid Hart $25,500. We must therefore remand this case to the trial court for it to determine the amount of restitution, if any, Hart is entitled to for the counterfeiting conviction only, taking into consideration Chamberlain’s $25,500 payment to Hart,” the appellate court ruled.  

Chamberlain received an interim suspension June 2013 pending final resolution of any resulting disciplinary action.

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