Moyler pleads guilty again

Published 8:48 am Wednesday, January 27, 2010

NORFOLK—James Edward Moyler Jr., the 79-year-old former Franklin attorney accused of taking more than $4 million from clients’ estates while serving as executor of their wills, pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to one count of making a false declaration in a bankruptcy case.

In a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the plea was accepted by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Davis, who scheduled Moyler’s sentencing for April 30. He faces a maximum of five years in prison.

As part of a plea agreement, the government agreed to drop an additional count of making a false declaration in a bankruptcy case and one count of making a false oath in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Federal prosecutors said that according to court records, Moyler and his wife, Carol, voluntarily filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in October 2008. Moyler filed a false bankruptcy petition when he failed to list more than $3.9 million in liabilities that he owed to the estate of Lucille K. Steinhardt.

Moyler pleaded guilty to six counts of embezzlement in Southampton County Circuit Court in November. He is to be sentenced on those charges, which each carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, in March.

Steinhardt was from a widely known and wealthy Franklin family who ran a downtown hardware store. Since she didn’t have heirs, she left sums of money to friends and family members who looked after her.

Her will bequeathed one-fourth of the remaining value of her estate to Franklin Fire & Rescue, half to the University of Richmond for scholarships, and one-fourth to Southampton Memorial Hospital.

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.

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 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.