Crime, Fire + Courts

Former attorney’s embezzlement nets jail time, disbarment

By From page A1 | September 04, 2014

A former Davis attorney has been ordered to serve probation and jail time for bilking a client of more than $50,000, the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office reported Wednesday.

Hal Erwin Wright, 59, entered into a plea agreement this summer in the embezzlement and forgery case, which stems from Wright’s reported mishandling of a 2010 personal-injury lawsuit involving Davis Musical Theatre Company founder Steve Isaacson, who had sustained a serious fall at a Sacramento theater that led to multiple surgeries.

But instead of filing the lawsuit, Wright settled the matter out of court without Isaacson’s knowledge, forging his client’s name on a $40,000 settlement check and keeping the money for himself, according to the DA’s Office.

“For the next two years, Wright continued telling the victim that the case was progressing through the court system, going as far as sending fake demands for information to the victim, which he told the victim were from the insurance company,” prosecutors said in a news release.

Prosecutors said Wright also pocketed a $15,500 check intended to benefit DMTC, which had been named a beneficiary in a patron’s will. Isaacson reportedly learned of the embezzlement in early 2013 after hiring another attorney to represent him.

Yolo Superior Court Judge Samuel McAdam sentenced Wright on Aug. 12 to three years of felony probation and 180 days in the county jail. A future court date will be scheduled to determine the amount of restitution to be paid in the case.

The Yolo County Public Defender’s Office, which represented Wright, declined to comment on the case Wednesday.

In addition to the criminal-court consequences, Wright was disbarred in May and is no longer eligible to practice law in California, according to the State Bar website.

Lauren Keene

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