Moyler pleads guilty to embezzlement

Published 11:00 am Thursday, November 5, 2009

COURTLAND—J. Edward Moyler pleaded guilty Thursday in Southampton County Circuit Court to six counts of embezzlement.

Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 7 before Judge John C. Morrison Jr.

Moyler, who practiced law in Franklin for 54 years, was accused of taking more than $4 million from clients’ estates while acting as executor of their wills before surrendering his license earlier this year. He could face up to 20 years in prison for each of the six counts.

The six counts were connected to more than $4 million stolen from the Lucille Steinhardt 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. That money was reportedly never paid out.

Moyler, 79, 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.

Moyler is free on $25,000 personal-recognizance bond.