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Updated: 3:47 p.m. Wednesday, July 9, 2014 | Posted: 3:04 p.m. Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Why a Preble County attorney stole thousands of dollars

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James Thomas, Jr. photo
James Thomas, Jr.

By Breaking News Staff and John Bedell and Sandy Collins

PREBLE COUNTY —

A public records request made with the Ohio Attorney General's office reveals why a Preble County attorney stole money from his clients.

James Thomas Jr. was sentenced June 17 to four-and-a-half years in prison for taking money from his clients' accounts to pay for his drug addiction. The 100 page report requested by WHIO outlines Thomas' addiction to ephedrine, and that he used his clients' bank accounts as "his personal ATM," according to Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine.

Last month, Thomas was ordered to repay $208,000 he stole from four victims while he worked as the guardian of their estates. Thomas practiced at The Thomas Law Office, 112 N. Barron St. in Eaton. He pleaded no contest on April 30 and was convicted on three felony counts of theft from an elderly person or disabled adult, and three misdemeanor counts of falsification after an investigation by the Ohio Attorney General's Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

The victims, aged 41 to 72, are all Preble County residents, according to the attorney general's office.

Thomas reportedly told state agents that he took $30,000 from one of his victims' bank accounts to pay his own taxes. During the court proceedings, Thomas told Visiting Judge Neal Bronson his addiction had consumed the last five years of his life and he had reached out for professional help.

"I'm so sorry to all of you. I'm sorry. None of it was intentional," Thomas said to the victims in the courtroom. "I've tarnished this job. I've tarnished this legal system we all take an oath to participate in and do justice with."

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