Attorney Steals Dead Mother's Money Meant For Child
Money meant for a boy, who lost his mother when he was five years old, was stolen by the woman charged with protecting his financial well-being.
Former Upper Arlington attorney Lindsey Burt admitted to stealing $67,000 dollars of the boy's inherited money over six years.
Police say Burt forged a legitimate guardianship document to take custody of the child and his finances, but because the mother was in Columbus and the father in Texas, it took years after the mother's death to discover the wrongdoings.
"This was an attorney who was in a position of trust," said Columbus Police Commander Bob Meader.
Police say this attorney abused her position by modifying original documents and stealing money.
Instead of helping the Chapa family receive $67,000 in death benefits, Commander Bob Meader says the 34-year-old attorney funneled the funds into her own account.
"What makes this particularly egregious is that this is a child and, what quality of life didn't the child have simply because this attorney was using these funds to live her life," said Meader.
"So, they were all death benefits that were left for Ryan," said the child's father, Mark Chapa.
10TV spoke with the Chapa via Skype Tuesday night. He said he has been in a nearly decade-long battle to get full custody of his son and now, his son's finances.
"When I did find out that this had happened, I was totally devastated. It's a sick feeling because you're fighting for your child and you're trusting the attorneys you hired and this is what they do to you," said Chapa.
Burt currently lives in Upper Arlington. Burt's husband declined comment to 10TV, on her behalf.
Police say she comes from a good family and was raised with privilege and because of this, they say there is no justifiable reason for her to steal. Police say she spent tens of thousands of dollars to pay off student loans, pick up groceries, and go shopping.
"If a suspect uses a Smith & Wesson firearm, we would expect that suspect, if he steals with that firearm to go to prison, but Lindsey Burt didn't use a Smith & Wesson. She used a Montblanc pen. Today, she's facing prison for stealing over $67,000 dollars from a child and she deserves to go to prison," said Meader.
Police also say Burt surrendered her law license in 2011 after being accused of other wrong-doings.
Chapa says Burt recently paid the family back, but still faces up to a decade in prison. Burt is expected to be sentenced in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court Wednesday morning.