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Former solicitor jailed for embezzling £413,000

5 October 2009

Former solicitor Michael Karus has been jailed for three and a half years for embezzling £413,052.81 from the estate of a former client.

Karus was sentenced at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for the offence, which he carried out while acting as executor for the estate of Edith Hampton who died in 2003 (click here for details).

Karus worked as a solicitor for Karus & Co until 2002 when he was suspended. The offence came to light in 2008.

Abuse of trust

Speaking after Karus was sentenced, Scott Pattison, Crown Office Director of Operations, said: “Michael Karus abused his position as a lawyer and the trust placed in him by Edith Hampton in order to steal her life savings, which amounted to over £400,000. Ms Hampton entrusted him to ensure that her property was passed on according to her wishes; but he took advantage and took this money for himself."

He added: “This case shows that those like Michael Karus who use their professional status to perpetrate crime will be made to face justice.”

Professional misconduct

The length of sentence handed down to Michael Karus means that he faces prosecution from the Law Society of Scotland before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal, although he is no longer a solicitor.

Philip Yelland, Director of Regulation at the Society, said: “Solicitors are expected to maintain the highest standards both in their professional and personal lives.

“Honesty is paramount in solicitors’ dealings with their clients. Mr Karus has clearly breached this fundamental principle of being a solicitor.

“Once the Society has official notice of his sentence from the courts, we will be able to raise a formal complaint against him to allow us to prosecute Mr Karus before the Scottish Solicitors Discipline Tribunal.”

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