No new jail time for Moyler

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

NORFOLK–A teary-eyed former Franklin attorney told a federal judge Monday about all he’s lost since embezzling more than $4 million from clients’ estates.

“I lost my home, my law practice, and for my wife, Carole, and three children, I couldn’t have expected to create a worse situation,” James Edward “Ed” Moyler Jr. said prior to being sentenced to six months in prison and six months of house arrest for failing to provide required information when he filed for bankruptcy. The six months in prison will run concurrent to an 18-month sentence on state charges, so it will not result in additional jail time.

“It hurts more than I can tell you,” the 80-year-old told U.S. District Court Judge Mark S. Davis.

Davis gave Moyler a one-year sentence for the bankruptcy court violation. Davis will allow Moyler to serve six months of that sentence while serving a separate 18-month state sentence for embezzling. He will do the remaining six months of his federal sentence on house arrest with electronic monitoring.

Moyler filed for bankruptcy in federal court in October 2008 and filed follow-up paperwork in January 2009. He claimed he had $3.7 million in debts and $643,353 in assets including a $599,000 home, testified Debra Conlin, an assistant in U.S Trustees Office in Norfolk.

Moyler broke the law by failing to report a $3.9 million debt, which he said he borrowed from the estate of Lucille K. Steinhardt of Franklin between 2001 and 2005. He told the judge he did it to make payroll for his Greensboro, N.C., hotel. The hotel, which catered to airline crews, hit hard times after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Moyler pleaded guilty in Southampton County Circuit Court to embezzling from the Steinhardt estate, which was to benefit Franklin Fire and Rescue, Southampton Memorial Hospital and scholarships at the University of Richmond. In March, Moyler was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Moyler, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and other medical conditions, also pleaded guilty to making a false declaration in a bankruptcy case in federal court.

On Monday, he apologized for what he called a stupid mistake and promised to dedicate the rest of his life to pay back the money.

Moyler’s attorney, Arenda Allen, told the court her client admitted to making a bad investment, expressed remorse and gave up his license to practice law.

“He agreed the creditors can go after him, granted he has nothing,” Allen said. “We ask you to consider his age. He’s got 72 years of honorable behavior. He hasn’t even had a speeding ticket.”

She also pointed to Moyler’s 55-year marriage and children who are productive members of their communities.

Allen also talked about Moyler’s involvement in Rotary, Jaycees, his church and serving as president of the local bar association.

“Mr. Moyler doesn’t deserve to die in jail,” Allen said. “For eight years, he lived with this secret. He tried to fix it. He wants to work and try to pay back his creditors.”

Davis was sympathetic toward Moyler, given his blemish-free law career until 2001.

“I can’t gloss over the fact that there was a positive trust held by Mr. Moyler,” Davis said. “The court has to decide what’s appropriate. It’s a very serious matter for an attorney.”

Robert Seidel Jr., supervisory assistant U.S. attorney, asked the judge not to allow Moyler to serve his federal sentence at the same time as his state sentence. Seidel said he believed the bankruptcy fraud sentence should be separate.

Seidel had no comment after sentencing.

Carole Moyler was joined by two of her children, friends and two of her husband’s former secretaries at the sentencing.