Two South Florida lawyers are in serious trouble after scamming a client, and now they will have to pay back all of the $275,000 they took from his family.
It all started when Patrick Coulton was arrested. Coulton pleaded guilty to the charges against him and was sentenced to 14 years in prison; as part of his plea deal, prosecutors said they would later recommend reducing his time.
So when the time came for Coulton’s sentence to be reduced, prosecutors made good on their promise, but the man’s two attorneys Emmanuel Roy and Peter Mayas were nowhere to be found. In fact, Coulton hadn’t heard from them since his sentencing, and his family had already paid them over $275,000 and had given them assets like a townhome, jewelry that included a gold medal purchased at the Vatican, and Coulton’s wife’s $23,000 wedding/engagement ring set.
Coulton’s new lawyer, Paul Petruzzi, uncovered the scam and brought it to court. After Coulton was released, the case against the two lawyers began, although neither responded to the charges against them for months. Petruzzi was able to determine that the case should only have cost Coulton and his family around $50,000.
"Guys like them are the reason people hate lawyers," said Petruzzi. "They took everything from him and his family. I took it personally because this is what I do for a living. Lawyers are supposed to help people."
Now, Roy and Mayas have been ordered to pay back the over $275,000 to Coulton’s family, as well as $100,000 in legal fees to Petruzzi. Roy is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for unrelated mortgage fraud charges, and both lawyers have started paying back Coulton. Coulton is now also living in Mayas’ home as determined by a judge. Coulton says it’s interesting how everything has come full circle.
"Even though they threw me under the bus, there's a certain sense of unease about acquiring a house in this fashion," said Coulton after moving into Mayas’ home. "I almost feel sorry for them."