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DeKalb County attorney sentenced to 20 years for stealing $250k from clients, some elderly

A former DeKalb County attorney who once hoped to be a judge will be spending the next twenty years behind bars. Teresa Darwin Phillips, 43, of Sylvania, was convicted of accessing, stealing, and spending approximately $250,000 from multiple clients.

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced the news Monday.

“Trust is fundamental to the attorney-client relationship. Once a lawyer has gained the trust of a client, particularly an elderly client, they owe that client the highest degree of honestly and loyalty,” said Marshall. “To see that trust betrayed on such a wide scale warrants a severe reaction from the justice system. Our team saw to that.”

“This case should serve as yet another warning to attorneys across our state seeking to take advantage of vulnerable clients—you will be found out and held accountable.”

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A 2020 investigation led by the Dekalb County District Attorney’s Office exposed the former lawyers scheme to use funds given to her by clients and other elderly persons for whom she had been appointed as legal guardian or conservator for her own gain.

DeKalb District Attorney Summer Summerford, said that her office will never tolerate those who target the vulnerable.

“Our community deserves to have attorneys who take their jobs seriously and works with integrity and honesty,” said Summerford. “My office will not stand for the intentional, premeditated targeting of vulnerable people who rely on attorneys for help in times of need. Although this sentence will not replace what the victims lost, hopefully it will provide the closure in this long case and deter other attorneys from making the same mistakes.”

Phillips previously pled guilty on November 7, 2022, to nine felony offenses.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News.

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