My favorite legal journal, Cracked, lists “the 5 most blatantly corrupt lawyers in history.”
In 2002, four little girls lost both their parents in a car crash. Attorney John Milton Merritt stepped in and did what any good public servant would do in that situation: He sued the shit out of those responsible for the tragic accident — namely, a “tire manufacturer” and an “auto maker” — secured the girls a settlement that would make Charles Dickens proud, and … then he freaking stole it. Let’s say that one more time: He stole a fortune from four little orphan girls.
On three separate occasions, Merritt went to the bank in which the trust fund was deposited, presented a counterfeit court order directing disbursement to him, and walked out carrying large sacks with dollar signs printed on them. Then he promptly spent the blood money on his firm, presumably on avant-garde coffee mugs made out of human skulls. By 2007, two years after his first “withdrawal,” the account was empty. Merritt, however, told the orphans and their grandmother that there was still “several hundred thousand dollars” left before laughing maniacally and making his merry way to his secret volcano lair for a comfortable retirement spent alternately wringing his hands and stroking an unamused lap cat.
Once you descend that far into stereotypical villainy, though, it’s really hard to stop, as evidenced by the fact that four years later Merritt stole $130,000 from the trust account of another client of his — a boy injured in an automobile accident — because apparently caviar tastes sweeter when it’s purchased with bills soaked in children’s tears. Oh, and in the time between burglarizing the orphaned children and the injured one, he stole an additional $3 million by fraudulently setting up lines of credit, falsifying income-tax returns, and forging another attorney’s name on other settlement checks. All at the same fucking bank. Would a little oversight kill you, Quail Creek Bank?
It’s cool, though, because he said he was totally going to give all the kids’ money back — until the federal investigation into his illicit deeds interrupted his plan. Those bastards!
By the way, that wasn’t number one, even though the lawyer not only stole from orphaned children, but he also had the same name as Al Pacino’s character in Devil’s Advocate.
Still, in the end, karma is going to get you:
Patrick Coulton’s lawyers ripped him off to the tune of $275,000 and left him to rot in prison.
But Coulton is getting payback: He now lives in his former lawyer’s home — a three-bedroom house in Miramar that he will eventually own as part of a court-ordered punishment of the two misbehaving attorneys.