OXFORD – Tupelo attorney William Catledge pleaded guilty Monday to one federal charge that he defrauded a legal finance company.
He faces up to 20 years in prison and $1 million in fines.
He originally was indicted by a federal grand jury, but the plea comes from a new charge made without grand jury consideration.
In U.S. District Court, Catledge admitted he schemed to defraud Oasis Legal Financing on Jan. 18, 2008, for a $4,972 check made out to “George Jones.”
The check was sent by FedEx to Catledge’s Tupelo law firm, he endorsed it, cashed it and used it for unrelated expenses, the government said.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Clay Joyner prosecuted the case.
Before Catledge is sentenced, U.S. Probation Service officials will consider his background, what’s he pleaded guilty to and any other factors they think important for a judge to consider. These pre-sentence reports usually take about six weeks.
Monday’s charge stems from a separate investigation of Catledge by the IRS from an earlier indictment accusing him of lying on two years’ income taxes.
A sealed indictment dated Feb. 19 accused him of three counts of lying on his federal income taxes. The document was unsealed March 5 and he was arrested.
He has been free on $10,000 bond since then.
That indictment accused him of under-reporting his income in 2000 and 2001 by nearly $1.5 million and under-reporting his gross business receipts by more than $805,000 for 2001. Late Monday, it was unclear why the government had moved against him on other charges.
This federal action does not end his legal problems. Since 1995, Catledge has been reprimanded numerous times and suspended from practice once by the Bar.
A judge is considering new complaints against him from clients about unlicensed office personnel taking on legal cases and failure by Catledge to pay settlements to other clients.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal