State Bar of Georgia delays hearing against Michael Eddings

chwilliams@ledger-enquirer.comFebruary 19, 2014 

Because of an ongoing Muscogee County murder trial in which attorney Michael Eddings represents one of the defendants, the State Bar of Georgia has delayed a disciplinary hearing against Eddings.

Eddings is facing possible sanctions from State Bar for misappropriation of about $2 million from his legal trust account. The financial issues were brought to light in October 2011. Eddings has repeatedly denied any participation in the scheme, where money was diverted from his legal account into restaurant businesses he and his then wife, Sonya, owned and operated.

The hearing was scheduled to begin Monday, but has been rescheduled for April 29-30 by Special Master Katherine L. McArthur of Macon, said William J. Cobb, assistant general counsel of the State Bar.

Eddings is representing Shaquille Porter, who is on trial now in Muscogee County Superior Court, facing two counts of murder in the Jan. 1, 2013, shooting death of Charles Foster Jr. at a south Columbus club.

Sonya Eddings has taken responsibility for the misappropriations in a written statement to auditors for First American Title Insurance Co. of California in 2011 and again in a 2012 deposition as part of a First American federal lawsuit against the Eddings, their business entities and Columbus Bank & Trust Co. First American has settled with CB&T, where the Eddings trust account was held. Michael Eddings has been dismissed from the suit and First American is seeking a default judgment from U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land against Sonya Eddings.

Michael Eddings has continued to practice in Columbus, converting from real estate law to primarily criminal defense work.

The bar complaint filed in November 2012 claims Michael Eddings “allowed” improper withdrawals from his trust account and failed to keep “measures giving reasonable assurance that the conduct of non-lawyers employed or retained by him were compatible with his professional obligations.”

The FBI has been investigating the shortfall in Eddings’ trust account, though the Columbus FBI office has declined comment on the case. People who lost money when Eddings’ account was closed have been interviewed and said they supplied documents to FBI agents.

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