KOSCIUSKO — A local attorney is currently facing eight felony charges after police say he stole funds from the law firm he worked for. The criminal charges were filed on Tuesday, April 9, and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Scott Lennox, 50, Warsaw, is being charged with two counts of fraud on a financial institution, level 5 felonies; and six counts of theft, level 6 felonies.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Nov. 27, 2018, an officer with the Warsaw Police Department met with attorney Matthew Buehler, who is partners with Joseph Sobek and Scott Lennox. Buehler advised that Lennox had illegally taken money from three trust accounts and that he had also taken money from the business operating account of Lennox, Sobek and Buehler, LLC.
The charging documents state that on Dec. 21, 2017, the law firm opened an IOLTA trust account with Lake City Bank. An IOLTA account is a trust account for attorneys for the short-term holding of client funds not yet earned or disbursed. On Oct. 30, 2018, Buehler discovered that Lennox was removing money from the trust account for personal use. Buehler removed Lennox from the trust account on Nov. 15, 2018, so that Buehler was the only person authorized to access the trust account funds.
Buehler further advised that he was notified by the law firm’s bookkeeper that Lennox made a cash withdraw on Oct. 30, 2018, of $5,500 from the trust account. Of that amount, $5,000 was deposited into the firm’s business account but no fees had been earned to justify the withdrawal. It was noted that the withdrawals appeared to have been made by Lennox for personal use. Similar incidents occurred on Nov. 7, 2018, with a cash withdraw of $3,500 from the trust account and a $3,000 deposit into the business account; and on Nov. 8, 2018, with a cash withdraw of $4,000 from the trust account with $3,500 being deposited into the business account.
The charging documents state that on Nov. 21, 2018, Lennox made an online transaction from the trust account to Lennox’s personal Verizon Wireless account in the amount of $1,620.71.
A detective with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office spoke with an individual who confirmed the dates when the trust account was opened and when Lennox was removed from the account. The individual was able to confirm that on Nov. 15, 2018, Lennox attempted to withdraw funds from the trust account and was told by an employee of Lake City Bank that he was no longer an approved signor on the account.
On Nov. 21, 2018, Lennox went to a local branch of Lake City Bank and presented a typed document claiming authorization to add his name back on the trust account. Buehler had not given authority to Lennox to do so.
However, on Nov. 23, 2018, Lennox presented and cashed a check from the law firm trust account, made payable to Lennox, in the amount of $1,243. The check was endorsed by Lennox. On Nov. 26, 2018, Lennox presented another check from the trust account made payable to Lennox in the amount of $743, which was endorsed by Lennox.
An employee of Lake City Bank advised that Lennox cashed both the checks after being told he was no longer a signer on the account. The bank credited the trust account and received a loss of $1,986.
On Nov. 29, 2018, a WPD officer spoke with the law firm’s bookkeeper. The bookkeeper advised that the firm is also the administrator of two other trust accounts from Lennox’s prior law firms. According to the bookkeeper, she wrote checks at Lennox’s direction for $7,000 to Bowers Jewelry and $6,000 to The Car Company. Lennox signed both checks. The checks were written on the older trust accounts. Neither companies were clients of the law firm. The Bowers Jewelry check was for an engagement ring and The Car Company check was for payment for Lennox’s son’s vehicle.
As of this morning, April 10, a notice of eviction was posted on the door of Lennox, Sobek & Buehler, LLC, 311 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw. The notice states that Lennox has been evicted from the office suite due to non-payment of rent and utilities. The notice further states that no occupants of the building know about Lennox’s current whereabouts.