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SALT LAKE CITY — A local attorney was sentenced to prison earlier this week after being convicted of illegally taking money from clients and lying to a bankruptcy court.
Eric Singleton, 56, will spend a year and one day in a federal prison after he pleaded guilty to bankruptcy fraud, according to a news release from the Utah U.S. Attorney's Office. Singleton was sentenced on Monday.
According to Singleton's plea agreement, he admitted to illegally taking money and using it for personal use before trying to hide his actions during his clients' bankruptcy proceedings.
From May 2016 to September 2017, Singleton told two clients to transfer $288,000 to him after selling properties in Magna. The money was supposed to be used to pay Singleton's attorney's fees — which totaled $22,000 — with the remaining $266,000 to be held in a trust account. Singleton told his clients the money in the trust would be for "safekeeping" and would ensure the money would not be taken by collections during bankruptcy proceedings, according to the U.S Attorney's Office news release. The agreement also states Singleton told the clients they would get the money back once the bankruptcy case was resolved.
However, Singleton admitted to taking the $266,000 and spending the money for business and personal expenses, according to the plea agreement.
Singleton later filed three bankruptcy cases on behalf of the clients, where he told a federal bankruptcy court that his clients had less than $50,000 in assets despite the $266,000 transferred to the trust, the plea agreement says. He later filed two more bankruptcy cases to continue to try and hide stolen funds from the trust.
Singleton was charged last July and pleaded guilty to the bankruptcy fraud charge the same month. Court records show Singleton will be placed on supervised release for two years after completing his prison sentence. He was also ordered to pay $266,843 in restitution. Singleton must surrender to the U.S. Marshal's Service by March 18 to begin his prison term.
The Utah State Bar's website shows that Singleton has been a licensed attorney in Utah since 1994 and his law license is currently suspended.