An attorney is accused of misappropriating more than $1 million left for the daughter of a fallen state trooper.
Now the TBI is investigating what happened to that money.
Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper Todd Larkins was killed in the line of duty in 2005. A tractor trailer struck Larkins while he was conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 40. The driver eventually pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide.
Larkins’ death raised statewide awareness surrounding the “move over” law, but Larkins also left behind another legacy: a trust for his only daughter, Carina.
“We don’t want anyone else’s family to have to go through this,” said Larkins’ widow, Alicia, in 2005.
Twelve years later, Larkins’ family is now enduring a nightmare of a different kind, leading a legal expert to ask what went wrong.
“Someone should have rung the bell and tried to stop this,” said attorney Cynthia Sherwood who has no ties to the case.
Larkins was survived by his wife, Alicia, and his daughter, Carina, who was 12.
Alicia Larkins filed a wrongful death lawsuit was ultimately awarded $6.6 million.
A separate trust containing $2.6 million was created just for Carina, according to court documents.
When Carina tried accessing that money in August, she couldn’t.
“It looks like the system has failed her on multiple levels,” Sherwood said.
Attorney Jack Garton was tapped to oversee the trust. But Garton is now accused of misappropriating funds, according to a complaint filed with the state supreme court.
A court transcript states Garton withdrew more than $1 million from the account, including roughly $300,000 during 2016.
“If what’s been alleged is true, it’s absolutely wrong on multiple levels,” Sherwood said.
Court documents also state Carina’s biological mother was allowed to take money from the trust, even after Carina became an adult.
Documents state investment companies tied to the trust were instructed not to discuss matters with Carina.
Court records show Garton gained unfettered access to the trust in 2014.
Former Dickson County Juvenile Judge Andrew Jackson issued an order in 2014, giving Garton discretion without court approval.
Jennifer Roberts is representing Carina Larkins. Roberts said when she tried finding the trust’s case file, she discovered it was gone.
At a hearing in October, Garton testified he “never had the court file, ever, ever.”
When the News 4 I-Team went to Garton’s law office in Dickson, a partner said Garton wasn’t there.
Four minutes later, Garton himself walked out of the building. He refused to answer questions and drove away.
District Attorney General Ray Crouch asked the TBI to investigate on Oct. 3. A special prosecutor from Davidson County was appointed to the case on Oct. 20.
A month later, the Board of Professional Responsibility suspended Garton’s law license.
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