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August 25, 2015

Judge tosses embezzlement charges against local lawyer

Lorenzo Lee Bean III had faced four charges of embezzlement, one for money laundering and two for making false statements on tax returns.
The judge ruled against us on a technicality . . . the form of a question used . . . . We disagree with all of the (defense team’s) motions and the allegations.
— Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher
Facing seven felony charges, including four for allegedly embezzling client funds, a disbarred lawyer from Sumerduck got his case thrown out of Fauquier County Circuit Court last week.

Judge David Beck ruled prosecutors improperly influenced a special grand jury that indicted Lorenzo Lee Bean III last August.

Mr. Bean, 62, allegedly bilked $140,000 from a client with a pattern of improper billing for services. The defendant, who lost his license to practice law in March, faced two counts of making false statements on tax returns and one of money laundering in addition to the embezzlement charges.

Defense attorneys Thomas K. Plofchan Jr. and T. David Griffith of Potomac Falls alleged a range of “prosecutorial misconduct” in the case, according to court documents. The lawyers charged that the prosecution improperly led the special grand jury to conclusions and failed to correct misleading statements from a state police investigator who testified in the secret proceedings.

Commonwealth’s Attorney James P. Fisher downplayed Judge Beck’s decision that cancelled the trial, slated to begin Aug. 18.

“The judge ruled against us on a technicality . . . the form of a question used” during grand jury testimony, Mr. Fisher said.

“We disagree with all of the (defense team’s) motions and the allegations,” the chief prosecutor added.

Two of his assistants, Jamey Cook and Russell L. Rabb III, handled the case.

“I want to make it clear, that in my view, I had a top-notch team of prosecutors in that case,” Mr. Fisher added. “I stand by their work. The judge, with all due respect, made a mistake.”

Judge Beck came from Spotsylvania to hear the case after local judges recused themselves because of familiarity with the defendant.

Although the judge dismissed the seven felony charges, the prosecution could seek new indictments for some of the same alleged crimes, according to Mr. Fisher.

The prosecutors will consider new charges, he said.

“I want to be very careful at this point,” Mr. Fisher said when pressed for a comment on the allegations of Mr. Bean’s misconduct and how the prosecution would proceed.

The defense attorneys failed to return phone calls Tuesday. Mr. Plofchan was in a trial. His receptionist said he or Mr. Griffith would be available Wednesday.

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