Straight from the Western District of Louisiana – Mel Credeur, a former attorney, was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison – five years of supervised release to follow – and payment of $769,055 in restitution including not being able to accrue any new lines of credit without approval from his probation officer. That’s a large sum…especially for someone who has been disbarred.
U.S. Attorney Donald W. Washington stated: “By position, oath, and responsibility, lawyers are bound to obey the law and serve as examples for others. This defendant broke the law and now faces severe consequences a
long prison term. Hopefully, this tragedy will serve to remind us all that no one is above the law.”
CREDEUR pleaded guilty to one count of making false statements to a bank and one count of forging securities of private entities. A superseding indictment was returned in June 2007 charging CREDEUR, age 52, with 9 counts of making false statements to a bank and 24 counts of forged securities of private entities. An investigation by the FBI revealed that beginning in 2002 while practicing law in Lafayette, CREDEUR established attorney/client lines of credit at a local bank which he used to finance is personal injury lawsuits. CREDEUR was obligated to pay off the bank’s line of credit after receiving funds generated by settling civil cases. On numerous occasions, when settlement proceeds were received by CREDEUR, instead of repaying the bank’s line of credit, he requested extensions of time with the local bank and gave false reasons as to why the extensions were needed. In some instances, CREDEUR never repaid the line of credit.
Further investigation revealed that in 2003, CREDEUR opened several business accounts at another local bank, including a trust account, checking and payroll checking account, and personal accounts. CREDEUR admitted to forging the settlement checks from insurance companies received for certain clients and depositing the proceeds into his account without the client’s knowledge or consent.
As a business ethics speaker (http://www.chuckgallagher.com), I often address audiences sharing the line – Every choice has a consequence. It is said, you reap what you sow. That is true. I know from experience. Because, like Credeur, who in a few days will report to federal prison, I, too, spent time in federal prison for my crimes.
All too often, people feel that if they do something that is wrong or against moral or human law – and don’t get caught – well they feel they won’t get caught. That is stinkin thinkin! Just plain wrong. When it is said you reap what you sow…it is true. In fact, in my opinion, the longer you go without being caught the more severe the consequences you will face.
Credeur will learn quickly that his life will change. Prison will change a person. Some for the better. Some of us realize that an experience in prison will create an opportunity to help others learn. That’s been my lesson and the passion I follow today.
I wish Credeur the best. For the rest who read this…remember Choices: Negative Consequences – Positive Results – you choose!