Jackson Lawyer Receives 40 Year Sentence for Embezzlement

For Immediate Release
June 25, 2012
For more information, please contact
Michael Guest at (601) 825-1472

Madison and Rankin Counties’ District Attorney Michael Guest announced today that former Jackson attorney Vann Leonard received a 40 year sentence for embezzling more than $500,000.00 from several clients that he represented in 2008 and 2009. The last twenty years of his sentence will be suspended.

Guest stated, “Vann Leonard used his position as an attorney to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from his clients. He took money entrusted to him and used the money to maintain an extravagant lifestyle.”

Leonard appeared in Madison County Circuit Court June 4, 2012, and entered a plea of guilty to three counts of embezzlement. At his sentencing today, Judge John Emfinger ordered Leonard to serve twenty years in the custody of the Department of Corrections. The Court also ordered that following his release from custody that Leonard complete five years of supervised probation and make full restitution to his former clients. If restitution is not paid, Leonard could be required to serve the remainder of his 40 year sentence.

In May 2011, the District Attorney’s Office began an investigation into Leonard after he failed to comply with a court order that required Leonard to account for funds from an estate matter in which Leonard was appointed as trustee. On May 5, 2011, Rankin County Chancery Court Judge John Grant conducted a hearing where Leonard refused to give testimony and exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Leonard was found to be in contempt and was placed under arrest.

Following his arrest, additional victims came forward. All of the victims had money that was placed into Leonard’s trust account, but the funds had never been paid to the victims. Subpoenas of bank records showed that Leonard received the funds in question, and he was later indicted by the Madison County grand jury for the theft of the missing funds.

Guest said, “Leonard’s days of stealing have come to an end and he now faces the consequences of the same legal system where he once practiced,” Guest continued. “His conviction should send a message that no one is above the law. If you steal from others, whether you use a gun or a pen, you will be prosecuted for your actions.”

Guest concluded, “I want to thank several people in the District Attorney’s Office including: Marty Miller, Bryan Buckley and Tommy Mayfield for the many hours they spent gathering and examining the records necessary to prosecute this case. Investigating a case involving the defrauding of multiple victims of large sums of money is very time consuming, but it has resulted in a corrupt attorney being sentenced to serve 20 years behind bars.”