COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – A disbarred Columbus attorney is going to federal prison after being convicted in a fraud case. On Oct. 19, 2021, George W. Snipes, 68, was sentenced to serve 51 months in prison following his conviction in a federal mail fraud case. Snipes has also been ordered to pay $1,638,000 in restitution.
On June 23, 2021, Snipes pleaded guilty to the charge of federal mail fraud. The case was investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and Columbus Police Department.
According to officials, Snipes’ conviction stems from a personal injury case he was involved in back in September 2017. Officials say Snipes settled the case without his clients’ knowledge or authorization in the amount of $48,000. He then had the payment sent to himself rather than his clients.
Acting U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said attorneys like Snipes, who do harm by committing fraud will be held accountable for their actions.
“George Snipes violated his sworn oath as a lawyer and committed a federal crime when he made the choice to divert money intended for his injured clients into his own pocket,” said Leary.
Investigators also found numerous illegal distributions into Snipes’ Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (“IOLTA”) from January 2017 to January 2018. Attorneys are not permitted to withdraw funds from these accounts without consulting with and gaining permission from their clients. Withdrawals from the accounts totaled $468,750. There were also numerous checks written to Snipes totaling $167,600.
Snipes was disbarred in June 2018 by the Georgia Supreme Court. The court said Snipes violated the Georgia rules of professional conduct involving attorney-client relationship. The disbarment came after Snipes arrest the month before.