A nearly year-long investigation ended Monday, April 28, when Eaton-based attorney, James Thomas Jr. was indicted on six counts, three felony, three misdemeanor, of theft from the elderly/disabled, and falsification.
Thomas Jr., 38, of Brookville, pleaded no contest to a bill of information, before Judge Neal Bronson in Preble County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday, April 30. Bronson ultimately found Thomas Jr. guilty on all counts.
The falsification charges stem from the filing of false documents associated with claiming guardianship of elderly or disabled residents, in Preble County Probate Court. Thomas Jr. claimed guardianship over the residents’ estates.
The investigation began in July 2013, and was conducted by Bureau of Criminal Investigations Special Agent Greg Burri.
“At the conclusion of the investigation, Special Agent Burri had the opportunity to interview the defendant, at which time he admitted to the criminal allegations contained in the Bill of Information,” said Melissa Schiffel, Special Assistant Prosecuting Attorney of Preble County.
“The charges were filed after an investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) found that Thomas took more than $208,000 from four victims’ bank accounts between 2007 and 2013,” said a statement prepared by the Attorney General’s Office.
“As guardian of their estates, it was this defendant’s job to protect these individuals from financial exploitation, but the investigation found that he regularly used their bank accounts as his personal ATM,” said Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Those who prey on Ohio’s vulnerable citizens should be on notice that we will do everything we can to protect our elderly and disabled citizens from those who take advantage of them.”
The case is being prosecuted by Attorney General DeWine’s Special Prosecutions Section. Investigators with the Preble County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.
It was recommended by the defense and state, that Thomas Jr. serve four years and eleven months in incarceration.
The victims were 41 to 72 years of age, all Preble County residents. Thomas Jr. has been given a no-contact order with the victims in this case.
Thomas Jr. was represented by Attorney Paris Ellis, and will be sentenced Tuesday, June 17. He was released on his own recognizance.