In Fauquier: Legal mistake fouls embezzlement charges against lawyer

A legal mistake from the prosecution led a circuit court judge to dismiss the several embezzlement charges that have hounded Warrenton attorney Lorenzo Lee Bean III for more than a year.

Bean, 62, was originally scheduled for a week-long trial on Aug. 17. But with only days to go, the trial was withdrawn after a motion to delay was granted by the judge.

Beanâ??s attorneys filed a motion saying they needed a longer, two-week trial to deal with the charges, including more time for their expert witness to testify.

Following the delay, Judge Designate David H. Beck was made aware of a procedural error made by the prosecution and dismissed the charges.

James Fisher, Fauquier County Commonwealthâ??s Attorney, said an assistant prosecutor formed questions incorrectly to the grand jury while seeking the indictment.

Specifically, prosecutors were summarizing previous answers in phrasing follow-up questions to the grand jury.

â??It’s very innocuous, it really is,â? Fisher said.

Fisher said the judge didn’t say it influenced the grand jury, but that it was a â??substantial possibility,â? and dismissed the case to keep it clean.

â??We challenged this. We disagree with it. We think the judge is wrong, with all due respect,â? Fisher said.

Fisher stands behind his team though, despite the dismissal.

â??I had a top-notch team of trial attorneys assigned to the case and theyâ??re still assigned to it,â? Fisher said. â??I have full confidence in them and I stand behind them 100 percent. They didnâ??t do anything wrong.â?

Under Virginia law, the charges can be brought again because the mistake was made during the grand jury phase of the case. But Fisher said their office doesnâ??t have a specific timeline for bringing the charges again.

â??Weâ??re not going to rush into it,â? Fisher said. â??Itâ??s a highly complicated case with a lot of records involved, mountains of business records and financial records.â?

But this doesnâ??t mean they will let the case slip away. According to Fisher, itâ??s still in the officeâ??s caseload and they are actively working on it.

â??We want to make sure that when we do it, we do it right,â? Fisher said.

Bean was originally arrested in 2014 and charged with six counts of embezzlement and one count of money laundering. In January of 2015 he was also charged with two counts of making false statements on his tax returns from 2010 and 2011.

The 2014 charges stem from a three-year representation of Clarence Butler who Bean had been hired to help with financial matters.

Search warrants revealed that Beanâ??s billing records were for $65,000 of billable work. But Butlerâ??s records revealed more than $140,000 in checks had been written to Bean from January 2010 to June 2013.

Virginia State Police began investigating Bean in March 2014 and he was arrested on Aug 29, 2014.

The Virginia State Bar, the organization’s disciplinary board, revoked Lorenzo Lee Bean III’s license to practice law in March 2015.

Bean still faces an embezzlement charge alleging he stole over $18,000 dollars from a divorcing couple in Loudoun County. He is scheduled to appear in a Loudoun County courthouse on Sept. 25.

Email the reporter: mmelkonian@virginianewsgroup.com.