Moyler accounts reviewed in court

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, August 12, 2009

SUFFOLK—The administrator of several estates once handled by former attorney J. Edward Moyler Jr. told a Suffolk Circuit Court judge Tuesday that the accounts, once worth millions, are worth a fraction of that sum and could possibly be depleted by overdue taxes.

Moyler, who practiced law in Franklin for 54 years, surrendered his law license in April after admitting that he took more than $4 million from clients’ estates while acting as executor of their wills. He claimed he intended to repay the money but made bad investments. Moyler declared bankruptcy in October and was later indicted on criminal charges in connection with the alleged thefts.

Suffolk attorney Jack T. Randall, court-appointed administrator, gave Judge Designate William C. Andrews III an updated accounting of the estates of Lucille Steinhardt, Marcella Bowers, Mallory Kenneth Brown, Robert E. Pretlow Jr., Lenora Mosely and Isaac Buster Rudolph Teachy.

Randall, of the Suffolk law firm Stallings and Bischoff, said an inventory of the Steinhardt estate had been filed and the current balance totals $196,513.73.

According to Randall, the Steinhardt estate received $7,713.76 from the Virginia Department of the Treasury’s Unclaimed Property Division and $2,666.62 in dividends from the sale of Verizon Communications Inc. stock. Another 844 shares of Verizon stock and 15 shares of FairPoint Communications Inc. stock — valued at $26,501.60 and $7, respectively — still need to be sold.

The Steinhardt estate also has $4,860.09 in an account with Davenport and Co. LLC, an investment firm based in Richmond. Randall said the Davenport account would be closed once the remaining stock is sold.

Randall said that although Steinhardt’s individual tax returns had been completed for 1999 and 2000, there are several issues with estate returns from 2001 through 2008.

“We’re waiting on some very complicated tax issues that we have to resolve before we file the estate returns,” Randall said. “Everything has been done except for some of the specifics on how the Internal Revenue Service wants us to handle the charitable contributions and the embezzlement (charges against Moyler). We have to get guidance from specific tax attorneys at the IRS.”

Randall said that the IRS had been advised of the “unusual circumstances” surrounding the Steinhardt estate and that the Franklin accounting firm Burgess & Co. had prepared a waiver of penalties and interest for the estate returns.

“We’re fairly close,” Randall said. “A lot of the bills have been written out. We’re just waiting to get some answers to our questions, a final accounting will be done and the estate will be closed.”

How much money, if any, will be left after taxes remains uncertain.

“I can’t answer that yet,” Randall said. “It may take up the entire amount of assets that we have on hand, or it may not. We’re trying to save as much money as we can for the beneficiaries.”

Those beneficiaries include Franklin Fire & Rescue and Southampton Memorial Hospital, which were each to receive one-fourth of the value of Steinhardt’s estate after other people in her will were paid. The remaining half was bequeathed to the University of Richmond for scholarships.

Franklin City Attorney Taylor Williams had no comment but said the city is interested in recovering its share of whatever remains of the Steinhardt estate after taxes.

Steinhardt, who died in October 2000, didn’t have heirs, so Steinhardt left sums of money to friends who looked after her. Moyler reportedly made those payments.

Randall said his office is waiting for additional information from Unclaimed Property before filing inventories for the Brown, Mosely and Pretlow estates.

Moyler faces nine counts of embezzlement in Southampton County Circuit Court, where he will be arraigned at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 3. If convicted on each count, he could face up to 180 years in prison.

An investigation by the State Police on the embezzlement charges is continuing.

In April, Andrews entered civil judgments of $4,072,363.76, $103,000, and $55,559.87 against Moyler in Southampton County Circuit Court for the Steinhardt, Brown and Pretlow estates, respectively.

The judge had also entered a judgment of $17,347.33 for the estate of Teachy, but Randall said a bonding company, National Grange Mutual Insurance Co., is going to be ordered by Andrews to forfeit $18,997.33 on that estate.

The civil proceedings are scheduled to resume in Suffolk Circuit Court at 9:30 a.m. Nov. 10.