Moyler arraignment set for Thursday

Published 8:57 am Saturday, October 31, 2009

COURTLAND — J. Edward Moyler is to be arraigned in Southampton County Circuit Court at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday.

It is the fourth time an arraignment has been scheduled for the former attorney, who faces nine charges of embezzlement. Moyler, who practiced law in Franklin for 54 years, is accused of taking more than $4 million from clients’ estates while acting as executor of their wills before surrendering his license earlier this year. If convicted on each count, he could face up to 180 years in prison.

According to circuit court records, the defendant’s first arraignment date was June 23, but Judge John C. Morrison Jr. postponed the matter until Sept. 3. Southampton County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Cooke and Tom Watkins, the public defender representing Moyler, then submitted a joint motion for a continuance until Oct. 15. Watkins was then granted another continuance until Thursday.

Morrison agreed to Watkins’ request for a competency examination of Moyler on June 25. The judge also agreed to have a state forensic accountant look through Moyler’s accounts to try and determine where the stolen money went, but stipulated that the investigation could not cost more than $2,000.

Moyler is free on $25,000 bond.

In August it was revealed in Suffolk Circuit Court that the estates handled by Moyler, once collectively worth millions, are now worth a fraction of that and could possibly be depleted because of overdue taxes. Civil proceedings are scheduled to resume in that court at 9:30 a.m. on Nov. 10.

In the civil case, Judge Designate William C. Andrews III entered civil judgments in Southampton County Circuit Court against Moyler, including one for $4,072,363.76 to the Lucille Steinhardt estate. Three other judgments were also issued — one for the estate of Mallory Kenneth Brown for $103,000, another for the estate of Robert E. Pretlow Jr. for $55,559.87 and $17,347.33 for the Issac Buster Rudolph Teachy estate.

Steinhardt, who died in October 2000, was from a widely known and wealthy Franklin family who ran a downtown hardware store. Since she didn’t have heirs, Steinhardt left sums of money to friends and family members who looked after her. Moyler reportedly made those payments.

After the other people listed in her will were paid, Steinhardt bequeathed one-fourth of the remaining value of the estate to Franklin Fire and Rescue, half to the University of Richmond for scholarships and one-fourth to Southampton Memorial Hospital, according to her will.

Moyler 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. He declared bankruptcy in October 2008.