Vidalia Attorney Sentenced to Eight Years of Prison for Stealing from Clients

William R. Smith, a 63-year-old attorney, has been ordered to pay $1,285,000 in restitution in addition to serving an eight-year prison sentence. After Smith has been released from prison, he will have to serve three years of supervised release. Prosecutors say that the Vidalia lawyer is guilty of stealing more than $1 million in settlement funding from his clientele. Meanwhile, William’s defense attorney, Wilson R. Smith, argued that the federal government had engaged in bootstrapping because they had included a 40 percent contingency fee that he had stolen from clients. What did his charges include in the 96-month sentence?

  • 72 Months for Mail Fraud
  • 24 Months for Identity Theft

Both of the charges will force Smith to serve them consecutively. Smith has been locked up since his arrest in January in Toombs County. Ever since, the Bulloch County Jail has held him, where he has awaited the resolution for his federal charges. Smith also had his law license suspended because of the criminal charges.

Because of William Smith’s unscrupulous behavior, he brought legal action against his law firm, Smith & Jenkins, which had offices in Vidalia and Savannah. His former law partner, Robert Jenkins, has had to face three separate civil lawsuits from irate clients since Smith’s arrest in January. Jenkin’s had no idea what Smith had been doing or that his misconduct would bring criminal law and other misfortunes against their firm.

In one of the lawsuits, a couple discovered that Smith had kept more than $500,000 in a medical malpractice settlement. That is what first led to his arrest. In addition to angry clients suing the law firm, the insurance provider of the attorney’s office, ProAssurance Casualty Co., has also filed a lawsuit against them. James Durham, the prosecutor of Smith, said that he had mishandled the funding of five different cases that led to investigators of criminal law catching up with his inappropriate deeds.

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