AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An Austin attorney who represented children in personal injury cases has pleaded guilty to using their legal awards -- hundreds of thousands of dollars -- for his personal use.
Court records show that John Williams Coates pleaded guilty to felony aggregated misapplication of fiduciary property under a 10-year prison deal.
Assistant prosecutor Gail Van Winkle told the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/TbOltC) that Coates has returned the $600,000 he had withheld from the Travis County court registry and his clients.
Coates had been approved by a judge to represent minors. He was to accept awards on their behalf from insurance companies.
He was supposed to put the money into a registry, where it would remain until the child turned 18. But the money wasn't there when some tried to retrieve it.