G. Timothy Leighton is accused of dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation by using $200,000 from the Betty L. Turpin Revocable Living Trust without the permission of her estate.
G. Timothy Leighton Lawyer From IL Used Trust Fund $$$ to Pay Settlement
BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington lawyer faces disciplinary action by the state for allegedly using $200,000 from a client trust account to pay a settlement with the client's family over his improper use of their money.
In a complaint filed July 24 by the Illinois Registration and Disciplinary Commission, G. Timothy Leighton is accused of dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation by using $200,000 from the Betty L. Turpin Revocable Living Trust without the permission of her estate.
Leighton served as Turpin's lawyer and sole trustee for the trust valued at $1.2 million. Turpin died in 2011 at 83.
According to the ARDC complaint, Leighton began removing funds in 2012 from the Turpin bank accounts and putting the money in two accounts he owned and maintained. The lawyer allegedly transferred more than $40,000 through a series of transfers in 2012 and 2013 and used at least $30,000 of that money for his own purposes, said the state filing.
Leighton, who practices with The Leighton Group, did not return a call from the Pantagraph on Monday for comment.
In 2013, four of Turpin's relatives filed a federal lawsuit against Leighton asking for an accounting of trust funds and damages based on Leighton's alleged misconduct.
The family filed a claim in 2016 for more than $200,000 in damages based upon an allegation that Leighton profited from the Turpin trust. A settlement between the lawyer, who was licensed to practice law in Illinois in 1999, and the family called for Leighton's insurance policy to pay $75,000 and Leighton to fund the remaining $200,000 of the agreement.
According to the complaint, Leighton drew a check from the Turpin trust's E-Trade account on Oct. 11, 2016, payable to his lawyer's trust account.
"The check consisted of money that belonged to the Turpin Trust," said the complaint, and was used to pay Leighton's share of the settlement.
Leighton is a former owner of The Thunder minor league hockey team. His website lists his majors areas of legal practice as trusts, wills, probate, business and charitable and tax matters.
Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny