Kept at least $550,000 in settlement amounts that should have gone to his clients.
PADUCAH, Ky. – A licensed Kentucky attorney pleaded guilty in United States District Court today, before Senior Judge Thomas B. Russell, to various charges including devising a scheme to defraud numerous clients of insurance settlements totaling at least $550,000 announced United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr.
“Clients trust their attorneys to act as fiduciaries, to put the clients’ interests first and to conduct themselves honestly and honorably,” stated U.S. Attorney John Kuhn. “In this case, Mr. King violated that trust and dishonored his profession by stealing from his clients. We will pursue justice for his defrauded clients, seek restitution on their behalf, and seek a sentence for Mr. King commensurate with his crime.”
From at least March of 2007 through May of 2017, James Grant King, 43, of McCracken County, Kentucky, was an attorney licensed by the Kentucky Bar Association and licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In court today, King admitted that during that time period, he committed aggravated identity theft and wire fraud.
King practiced as a plaintiff’s attorney for numerous clients within the Western District of Kentucky and elsewhere. These clients came to the defendant seeking his services in order to recover monetary damages and other remedies. After learning about his clients’ cases, King would seek to settle their cases with insurance companies. However, after reaching a settlement with the insurance companies, and unbeknownst to his clients, King would then keep most or all of the settlement amounts for himself.
Specifically, depending on the case, King would either keep the entire settlement amount for himself or tell clients that he was still awaiting resolution and settlement of the case with the insurance company, knowing that the insurance company had already settled the case and sent him the full settlement amount. King’s clients would believe him because they trusted him. The settlements that King received from the insurance companies often came in the form of a check. In order to cash or deposit the check, King would forge the signatures of his clients so that they would not know about the check. King would forge these signatures without any lawful authority
King is also charged with obtaining a $97,500 personal loan from a McCracken County individual. As collateral for the loan, King transferred the title of a Phoenix Model 920 Pro XP boat. However, a few months later, King applied for a duplicate title to the boat, and then, unbeknownst to the individual who loaned him the money, King sold the boat, without repaying the $97,500 loan.
If convicted at trial, King could face a sentence of 42 years in prison, pay a fine of $750,000 and be required to serve a three years period of supervised release.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Nute A. Bonner and is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the McCracken County Kentucky Sheriff’s Department.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Western District of Kentucky