A Texas attorney who represented children in personal injury cases has pleaded guilty to using their legal awards — hundreds of thousands of dollars — for his personal use.
Court records show that John Williams Coates pleaded guilty to felony aggregated misapplication of fiduciary property under a 10-year prison deal.
Assistant prosecutor Gail Van Winkle told the Austin American-Statesman that Coates has returned the $600,000 he had withheld from the Travis County court registry and his clients.
Coates had been approved by a judge to represent minors. He was to accept awards on their behalf from insurance companies.
He was supposed to put the money into a registry, where it would remain until the child turned 18. But the money wasn’t there when some tried to retrieve it.
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