Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Daytona attorney disbarred after stealing $2 million from clients

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A local attorney has been disbarred after stealing more than $2 million from clients and spending it on cosmetic surgeries, child support, gambling, property, a boat and jewelry.

Brian Wiggins, 37, pleaded guilty to 16 felony counts on Feb. 12 in Greene County Common Pleas Court, including aggravated theft, money laundering and possession of cocaine. He was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay back about $1.9 million in restitution.

The Ohio Supreme Court issued the disbarment on Monday.

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Wiggins allegedly mishandled several estates or trusts he represented.

“The bulk of the charges in the indictment allege fraudulent activity related to transfer of estate and/or trust funds from the estate of a man named Ronald Lentz,” Greene County prosecutor David Hayes said during a March 2020 media briefing.

Lentz, of Beavercreek, died in August 2018. Wiggins was the attorney of the estate as well as the trustee of the trust, which were valued at more than $3 million, Hayes said. The majority of the estate was to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Smile Train, a nonprofit for children with cleft lips and palates.

Tom Kollin, an attorney who represented Wiggins in the criminal proceedings, said Wiggins apologized during the sentencing hearing and intended to pay the money back. Kollin said he did not represent Wiggins during the disbarment process.

Judge Daniel Hogan, a visiting judge, heard the criminal case against Wiggins.

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Wiggins originally was charged with 55 criminal counts, enough to end up with more than 70 years in prison. The other counts were dismissed in the plea deal.

In the request filed with the Ohio Supreme Court for an interim default suspension last April, which later granted in May, an investigator accused Wiggins of misappropriating estate funds from multiple estates or trusts, and noted he may still have access to additional estates and trusts.

Wiggins is incarcerated at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction’s Correctional Reception Center in Orient.

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