NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - There has been an abrupt change of heart for an attorney accused of stealing more than $1 million from the daughter of a deceased state trooper.
Trooper Todd Larkin was killed when he was hit on the interstate by a tractor-trailer in 2005.
His young daughter received a settlement of more than $2 million.
Jackie Lynn Garton, the attorney appointed to manage the girl's money, is accused of stealing more than half of that settlement, along with additional money from other clients.
Garton pleaded not guilty last week, but his attorney confirmed to News4 that he has changed his mind and will now plead guilty.
He is facing federal charges after a Department of Justice investigation uncovered $1.3 million stolen from clients and false tax returns filed.
Garton, 54, was charged Thursday, Dec. 6 with wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and tax fraud related to a years-long scheme during which money was stolen from clients and his own law partners.
"...Garton, an attorney who specialized in probate law, [is charged] with stealing over $1.3 million through a scheme that began in 2009 and continued until 2017, while Garton was a practicing attorney in Dickson, Tennessee. Of the total funds stolen, Garton, under the auspices of acting as a trustee, removed over $1.1 million from the trust of a minor whose father, a Tennessee State Trooper, was killed in the line of duty," according to the Department of Justice in a statement.
Charging documents stated Garton carried out the scheme by withdrawing funds from clients' accounts without their permission and deposited the stolen funds into his personal bank accounts. Garton also used the identification of a victim to carry out his scheme of defrauding his clients, using the stolen funds for personal use and concealing portions of his income from his law partners and the IRS. Investigators said Garton tried to defraud the IRS over $350,000.
Garton faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted, as well as a $250,000 fine on each count and by paying restitution to the victims.