ATLANTA (AP) — A disbarred Georgia lawyer has been sentenced to two years in federal prison after being convicted of stealing $337,000 that she was holding for a suburban Atlanta county.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash sentenced Carla B. Gaines Friday in Atlanta, also ordering her to pay nearly $331,000 in restitution. The 61-year-old Mableton resident is due to report to prison before Oct. 17, court records show.
Gaines pleaded guilty in February to one count of theft from a local government receiving federal funds.
Clayton County gave Gaines $712,400 to buy right-of-way from a College Park convenience store. Gaines paid $375,000 to the store owner in November 2015 and was supposed to hold the rest of the money until the owner cleared out the property. When the store owner requested the remainder in March 2016, Gaines didn't pay.
Instead, federal prosecutors say she had spent the money on herself and her law firm. Prosecutors say Gaines repeatedly lied, including in two civil depositions in a lawsuit filed by the convenience store company, about whether she had the money and what she had done with it. She initially claimed she was having trouble getting the bank to issue the payment. Later, she claimed she had mistakenly paid part of the company's money to another client, a pastor, and that the pastor was promising to pay her back.