Abilene attorney indicted, arrested on charges he stole settlement money from clients

Burt Lee Burnett

A well-known Abilene attorney has been indicted and arrested on charges that he stole settlement money from clients.

Burt Lee Burnett, 51, turned himself in Thursday on two counts of misapplication of fiduciary property. He was released on bonds totaling $110,000.

Burnett was indicted by a grand jury on June 28, but the indictment was sealed until after he had been booked.

According to the indictment, Burnett stole at least $300,000 from Nancy Edwards and her sister and up to $30,000 from Terri Brown and Roderick Leyba-Brown.

RELATED: Abilene attorney accused of pocketing settlement money, charges possible

Edwards and her sister were rear ended in 2012 by an 18-wheeler on Ranger Hill. They hired Burnett who got them a $1 million settlement, but the sisters never saw the money. They have filed a lawsuit.

Burnett told KTXS in April that someone employed at his law firm, at the time, stole the money.

We contacted Burnett about the indictment and he said no comment.

Both Judge James Eidson and District Attorney Jim Hicks have filed motions to recuse themselves from the case.

According to court documents, Hicks previously hired Burnett as a personal injury lawyer for his family.

Judge Eidson appointed Coleman County District Attorney Heath Hemphill as the special prosecutor.

Eidson said he has known Burnett “for many years.” He asked the Dean Rucker, the Presiding Judge of the Seventh Administrative Region, to appoint a replacement.

The State Bar of Texas suspended Burnett’s law license in June 2017 for professional misconduct. The state’s website shows he’s still “not eligible” to practice law.

In total, there are six lawsuits alleging Burnett took money after receiving settlement checks on their behalf. The 10 plaintiffs span across the Big Country and collectively they accuse Burnett of stealing a little more than $2 million.

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