A 45-year-old Fort Worth woman pled guilty and was sentenced to 50 years in prison for embezzling nearly $50,000 from a Weatherford attorney who employed her, as well as for forging the signatures of a Dallas probate court judge and a Dallas county clerk on legal documents in a case that concluded in Parker County district court April 15.
Julie Sue Witt, aka Julie Sue Steen, was sentenced as a habitual offender, having been previously convicted of four prior felony theft cases and a felony money laundering case with prison sentences totaling 33 years, according to Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain, who prosecuted the case. All of the prior convictions are believed to be related to situations where Witt stole from her employer, Swain said.
“Ordinarily, the attorney who was our victim would not have employed someone with this defendant’s background and would have caught that with a routine criminal history check,” Swain said. “In this case, however, he was taking over the practice of an attorney who was his friend who had passed away and who had employed Mrs. Witt. He kept her on since she was familiar with the clients, in the belief that the other attorney had checked her out.”
During the time of her employment, Witt falsified court documents that she provided to clients to cover her tracks, including forging the signatures of judges and clerks, Swain said. She also doctored the attorney’s bank records so that he would not discover that she was draining his bank accounts. Additionally, in some instances, she pocketed money from clients who were trying to hire the attorney to perform legal work and never told the attorney that he had been retained or even of the client’s existence.
“You have to be a pretty devious person to look at a person day in and day out while you’re stealing from them the entire time,” Swain said. “Yet, that is exactly what this defendant has done time and again. To our attorney-victim’s credit, he has made good on every dime that was stolen that involved client money. He also performed all of the legal work that Mrs. Witt accepted payment for without receiving any money himself from the client. In other words, he worked for free to make things right, which is a real credit to the legal profession.”