New Milford attorney sentenced for bilking client
Published 2:25 pm, Monday, February 22, 2016
NEW MILFORD — An attorney who sole $113,000 from a client will spend two years in prison followed by five years of probation.
Donald Wharton, 54, of New Milford, was sentenced Friday in state Superior Court in Litchfield to 10 years in prison, suspended after two years, followed by five years of probation. Wharton pleaded guilty to first-degree larcent in December.
Authorities said Wharton bilked a New Milford homeowner out of funds intended to pay off foreclosure expenses. He was arrested in November 2014, two months after the victim confronted him about the money.
Domenico Spano, 49, had hired Wharton to handle a potential foreclosure on his Lily Pond Trail home. Spano told police he gave Wharton an $83,000 check and $30,000 in cash in April 2013 to resolve the year-long issue.
When the foreclosure problem still hadn’t been resolved in April 2014, Spano filed a complaint against Wharton with the New Milford Police Department, court records show. Police said they advised the victim to meet with the lawyer and record their conversation.
Spano and his wife met with Wharton in his Danbury office on Sept. 3, 2014. The lawyer was seen in the video being evasive, said he had to go home to retrieve information about the funds and would meet the couple again later that evening in his office, police said.
Wharton never showed up, court records state. Instead, he went home and attempted suicide, police said.
When Wharton’s wife came home from work that night she found an apparent suicide note, according to the warrant. Police later found Wharton unconscious in the woods behind his house next to a bag of pills and a gun, court records show.
Wharton did not use the gun but spent two weeks recovering from the incident at New Milford Hospital, police said.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for Wharton’s work bank account, which showed a check deposit for $83,000 as well as two cash deposits for a total of $12,000. Police believed that was a portion of the $30,000 cash payment from Spano. As of September 2014, the remaining balance in that account was about $34, police said.
Wharton’s attorney license was suspended in December 2014, according to the state Judicial Branch.