Monday, July 22, 2002
Former Beverly Hills Attorney Pleads Not Guilty to Embezzlement From Sons of Dead LAPD Officer
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A former Beverly Hills lawyer and another defendant pled not guilty Friday to stealing a $380,000 life insurance settlement from two Inglewood brothers who police say were gunned down by a man dressed as a postal worker while awaiting settlement of their mother’s estate.
In addition to the grand theft by embezzlement charge, Angela Wallace, 41, and co-defendant Timothy Mack, 46, also pled not guilty to charges of perjury stemming from filing false applications for driver’s licenses.
Wallace is also charged with three counts of forgery for allegedly using a false power of attorney to open a bank account under the name of one of the brothers.
Wallace faces a maximum of eight years and eight months in prison if convicted on all counts. Mack faces a maximum of six years and eight months.
A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Aug 13. A bail review hearing was set for Mack, who has been in custody since his February arrest, for July 24. His bail is currently set at $400,000. Wallace remains free on $150,000 bond.
Prosecutors accuse Wallace of cheating brothers Jontrae Byrdsong, 18, and Howard Byrdsong, 20, out of the life insurance settlement they were to receive from the estate of their mother, Los Angeles Police Officer Shiree Arrant, after she died in 2000, and of lying to them about ever receiving it.
Just months after the Byrdsongs contacted the District Attorney’s Office last spring with their suspicions of Wallace and Mack, prosecutors say the brothers were shot to death at the home where they had been staying after a man dressed as a postal worker knocked on the door, pistol-whipped family friend Regina Martin and killed the men.
Inglewood police are currently investigating the killings and investigators are focusing on the contact the brothers had with Wallace and Mack, Lt. Alex Perez said.
Wallace was serving a two-year suspension and barred from practicing law in California when she represented herself as an attorney from the All American Law Firm to the Byrdsong brothers and agreed to act as their trustee, prosecutors say.
In August 2000, Wallace sent a letter to the insurance company handling Arrant’s policy, instructing the insurer to send a lump sum payment to Howard Byrdsong in care of Wallace.
Several days later, prosecutors allege, Wallace opened a bank account at City National Bank under the name “All American Law Firm FBO Howard Byrdsong” with a forged power of attorney. Over the next seven months Wallace used the account to write numerous unauthorized checks to herself, her law firm, and others, according to the amended complaint, prosecutors say.
Last spring, Wallace allegedly told Martin she had not received the settlement check. A man identifying himself as a negotiator for Wallace then visited the home of Martin and Howard Byrdsong and offered Byrdsong a settlement of $125,000 on the spot and $143,631.41 after he rescinded an affidavit of forgery he had filed with City National Bank, according to the amended complaint. Wallace allegedly later visited the Byrdsongs and told them she had invested $125,000 because she had invested all of the money.
Mack, who identified himself as a representative of the bank, also visited Howard Byrdsong and presented him with a document entitled “Out-of-Court Settlement,” which proposed a settlement between the elder brother and the bank for $125,000 and released Wallace of all liability regarding the remaining money, according to the amended complaint.
Wallace, a graduate of USC law school, was admitted to the State Bar of California in 1988. She received a two-year suspension in September 1999 after stipulating to seven counts in six consolidated cases, according to the California Bar Journal, an official State Bar publication.
Wallace stipulated that she “commingled funds, allowed the misappropriation of client funds and committed acts of moral turpitude” in one case and she failed to communicate with a client after receiving settlement funds in another. Wallace also stipulated that she “failed to perform legal services competently or refund her client’s advanced fees.”
She resigned from the State Bar last May with charges pending. Charges brought by the State Bar are not made public until they are actually filed and Wallace resigned before anything was filed against her, State Bar spokeswoman Kathleen Beitiks said.
Copyright 2002, Metropolitan News Company