Former Phenix City attorney Dana Gentry gets no prison time on forgery charge

benw@ledger-enquirer.comJuly 16, 2013 

Former Phenix City attorney Dana Posey Gentry avoided prison time Friday when he pleaded guilty to felony possession of a forged instrument charge in Lee County Circuit Court.

Judge Brady E. Mendheim of Houston County, Ala., gave Gentry a suspended 10-year sentence with five years of supervised probation in the September 2011 case.

Gentry was accused of giving his clients a forged court order showing they were awarded $60,000 more in damages than they actually were after a November 2009 bench trial before Judge Jacob A. Walker III of Lee County Circuit Court.

Mendheim presided over the plea after Walker recused himself. Prosecutor Jessica Ventiere said she’s happy with the sentence, which was the maximum for the felony charge.

“I’m happy that Judge Mendheim gave him the maximum sentence,” Ventiere said Tuesday. “I think that’s important, and I think it shows how serious a case it is that the judge was giving the maximum sentence.”

The prosecutor also said Gentry had no prior felony convictions and the sentence was suspended under the Alabama sentencing guidelines. The law calls for probation or suspended sentence, she said.

Gentry was represented by Tilden Jeffrey Haywood, who wasn’t available for comment on Tuesday.

Gentry also faced three other theft of property charges, but they won’t be going to court, Ventiere said.

“I can’t comment on those,” she said.

According to court documents, Gentry pleaded guilty to the felony possession of a forged instrument charge but the other charges were either nol prosse (Latin for “we shall no longer prosecute”) or dismissed with the following conditions:

• Gentry must plead guilty to the forged instrument charge.

• At the time of the plea, Gentry must pay the Lee County Circuit Clerk $30,000.

• He must pay court costs for three of the charges. The other costs for the remaining charges were waived.

• He is not allowed to apply for a law license in any state.

Judge Walker filed a bar complaint against Gentry in May 2011 after discovering the alleged forgery. He has been disbarred in Alabama and Georgia, where he practiced law in Columbus.

A Georgia Supreme Court order made public in October accused Gentry of running afoul of several rules of professional conduct.

Gentry’s troubles in Georgia centered around three divorce cases in which he failed to file appropriate court documents and, according to the Supreme Court order, “did not respond to his clients’ attempts to contact him, failed to communicate with his clients, failed to appear in court, and withdrew from a case without notifying his client.”

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