Aycock unseals embezzlement case against ex-attorney

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – A federal judge unsealed an embezzlement case Friday against a former Jackson-area attorney.
Last February, Vann Frederic Leonard avoided indictment by pleading guilty to a one-count federal information that stated, as an officer of the court, he stole money entrusted to his administration by a client.
An information is a criminal charge that doesn’t come from a grand jury.
The case was sealed from the public Feb. 25.
Leonard agreed to avoid a trial by pleading guilty to one count that he embezzled money from a bankruptcy estate he administered.
He faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000, as well as possible restitution.
Friday, Northern Mississippi U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock unsealed the case after Leonard’s sentence hearing was not held Thursday, as scheduled.
Since last Tuesday, he’s been in federal custody in the Lafayette County Detention Center.
U.S. marshals moved him from the Rankin County Jail, where he was held after serious legal problems of a similar nature.
Criminal accusations against Leonard arose in the Southern District, where a client alleged he stole $327,585 from an accident settlement after she declared bankruptcy.
The criminal and bankrutpcy cases were transferred to North Mississippi.
Leonard also was accused in a Madison County circuit court case of stealing the proceeds from a life insurance policy that should have gone to a doctor’s widow and in a Rankin County estate case over $111,000 he’s accused of taking.
The Mississippi Bar took possession of all his client files this past summer.
On Sept. 12, Leonard’s irrevocable resignation from the Bar was accepted by the state Supreme Court.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com