EXCLUSIVE: Reprimand issued for attorney following massive fraud case

EXCLUSIVE: Reprimand issued for attorney following massive fraud case
Portion of the GA Supreme Court ruling. (Source: WTVM)
Portion of the GA Supreme Court ruling. (Source: WTVM)

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – A prominent Columbus attorney says he feels vindicated by the Georgia Supreme Court's ruling in his case.

This case came about five years ago when attorney Michael Eddings' real estate closing firm came under fire. News Leader 9 obtained a copy of the ruling which states Eddings did not participate in the theft and was unaware of his then wife- Sonya's wrongful actions.

Around $2.3 million dollars went missing from his trust account. From the beginning Eddings maintained his innocence, saying he had nothing to do with the situation and was unaware of any wrongdoing.

Edding's now ex-wife Sonya Eddings who was the law firm's manager pleaded guilty in August to stealing the money.

Per the court document, Sonya Eddings used the money to cover losses for the couple's two coffee shop franchises called, The Coffee Beanery in March of 2007.

"The record shows that Sonya used her inside knowledge of CB&T's technology and technological vulnerabilities to accomplish the theft," per the Georgia Supreme Court.

An audit showed that between October 2007 and 2011, the firm's trust account had a negative balance 50 times for which Sonya admitted her wrongdoing.

After CB&T seized the firm's funds and closed the firm's account, the firm's insurance company provided coverage for most of the losses; however, the parties agreed that $65,618.22 in losses to clients and mortgage holders remains uncompensated.

That financial responsibility now falls upon Michael Eddings as directed by the Georgia Supreme Court to be paid to the victims within five years

The Georgia Bar Association recommended disbarring Eddings from practicing law in the state of Georgia.

The case went before the State Supreme Court and it rejected that recommendation Thursday and agreed to issue Eddings a public reprimand instead.

"Finally the truth is out and we're grateful for that. We're not bitter for what I had to experience for those five years, it has been truly a test of faith for me personally and yes I do feel a certain sense of vindication," said Attorney Michael Eddings.

Micheal Edding's real estate law firm closed down as did several restaurants he owned in Columbus at the time.

Eddings is practicing criminal law in Columbus and Atlanta.

Ultimately, the court found that Michael Eddings failed to properly supervise an employee who negligently handled real estate closing funds and concluded that Edding's was a victim of an elaborate con.

As for Sonya Eddings she is awaiting sentencing in federal court.

We reached out to Sonya Eddings' attorney for comment, but we did not receive a callback.

The full ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court is below.

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