How low can one person go? In the case of one Oklahoma attorney, pretty far down.
Last Friday, Attorney John Milton Merritt plead guilty to 12 counts of using forged court orders to defraud clients, Oklahoma News 9 reports. Among those affected by the scheme were four orphaned girls whose parents were killed in a 2002 car crash and a boy injured in a 2005 car accident, NewsOK is reporting. In total, Mr. Merritt stole just under $450,000 from the children and $1.7 million in total. He reportedly could face more than 30 years in prison.
Prosecutors appear unmoved by the claim that Merritt always intended to pay back his clients but was prevented from doing so by the federal investigation. Merritt is being forced to forfeit over $700,000, Court House News is reporting. Prosecutors intend to seek full financial restitution.
Sadly, Merritt is not the only person who tried to live off the money of orphaned children.
Last year, James Hoots plead guilty to stealing $170,000 from six orphans in order to finance his gambling addiction, the National Council of Problem Gambling reports.Before that, The Pittsburgh-Gazette reported that Daniel and Merily Pompa were charged with stealing nearly $1.4 million from their adopted children, Dylan and Olivia, in order to support their own lavish lifestyle. The couple pled guilty in June, CBS Pittsburgh reports.