Madison and Rankin Counties’ District Attorney Michael Guest announced today that former attorney, Michael J. Brown, was found guilty on two accounts of embezzlement. Brown received a 40 year sentence following his conviction during a four day trial in Rankin County. The embezzled funds were those from the estate inherited by the heir of formal civil rights leader Dr. Aaron Henry. The last 10 years of Brown’s sentence was suspended.
In 2000, a guardianship was established in the First Judicial District of Hinds County. The minor child, for whom the guardianship was established, was Demon McClinton. McClinton was the grandson of Dr. Henry, and Michael Brown then was hired as the acting attorney for the guardianship. The funds from the estate of the late Dr. Aaron Henry were deposited into an account controlled by Brown.
Brown was under court order to use the funds strictly for the benefit of the child and not to dispense such funds without prior approval of the court. However, and unbeknownst to the court, Brown placed the estate funds into his own personal escrow account, not the court instructed guardianship account.
After receiving the funds, Brown began spending the money without the agreed contingents of court approval. His expenditures included purchasing five automobiles in Hinds County. Those purchases were conducted over a period of several weeks. Furthering his spending of the allocated funds in 2001, Brown wrote two checks totaling over $550,000 to Linus Shackleford. These funds were to be used as an investment for a cemetery owned by Shackleford, located on Lakeland Drive. This investment made by Brown resulted in McClinton losing a large majority of his inherited estate funds.
The guardianship was ultimately closed by Brown in 2006, after Brown had depleted over $1,200,000 of McClinton’s inheritance. At the time the guardianship was closed, Brown filed fraudulent paperwork with the Hinds County Chancery court that showed all money was properly spent and all funds were spent on benefit of the minor child.
In 2011, the estate of Demon McClinton was reopened by Hinds County Chancellor Dewayne Thomas. Judge Thomas conducted a series of hearings into the guardianship which led to the discovery that fraud had been committed by Brown. Judge Thomas alerted the District Attorney’s Office of the actions of Brown. The District Attorney’s Office proceeded to conduct an investigation of Brown, which then resulted in the Rankin County Grand Jury returning indictments for embezzlement.
Guest stated, “There is no greater trust than that between a lawyer and his client. Brown was an officer of the court, whose sole purpose was to protect the interest of the minor child. Brown broke that trust and he trampled on the interest of the child in the name of greed.”
Guest concluded, “I want to thank two members of my staff, Bryan Buckley and Tommy Mayfield, for their tireless efforts to see that Brown received the justice that he deserved. I hope that this conviction and sentence highlights the fact that no person or profession is above the law.”
District Attorney Michael Guest was sworn into office in January 2008 and represents the Twentieth Judicial District, which encompasses Madison and Rankin Counties. For more information about the District Attorney’s office, please visit www.daguest.com.
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