FORT MYERS, Fla. — A former attorney who lives in Fort Myers but also had an office in Winter Haven has pleaded guilty to concealment of assets from a bankruptcy estate, the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently reported.
Josiah Hutton, 60, is facing a maximum penalty of five years in a federal prison, with his sentencing scheduled for June 5. The FBI made the announcement on March 15.
Hutton was retained to represent a debtor who was getting ready to make a bankruptcy filing, the plea agreement said. The attorney had received a settlement check before the filing of a bankruptcy petition.
The check was the property of the debtor’s bankruptcy estate, and Hutton deposited the check into his attorney escrow account. Hutton prepared and certified the bankruptcy petition for the debtor, but failed to list the settlement check among the assets, which kept it hidden from creditors and the bankruptcy court.
Following the debtor’s petition being filed, Hutton embezzled a large portion of the settlement check for his own use.
The FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the case, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Poor handled the prosecution.
Hutton had abandoned his practice after a number of missteps.
Last year, the Florida Bar suspended Hutton for misappropriation of a client's funds. He misappropriated almost $191,000 from a trust account, an investigation revealed.
In 2012, Hutton had been placed on five years probation by the Florida Bar after pleading guilty to driving under the influence in Pinellas County.
In 2000, Hutton was suspended for 30 days for practicing law while being suspended, and in 1995, he was cited for trust account violations.
Hutton's profile page on the Florida Bar website said that he was admitted to the state bar on March 5, 1989. He earned his law degree in 1987 from the University of South Carolina School of Law.