Criminal charges may be nearing in an alleged misappropriation involving a Columbus, Georgia real estate law firm, as serious allegations of misconduct in several lawsuits have led to calls for criminal indictments of a prominent lawyer and/or his wife.
Last fall, the law firm of attorney Michael A. Eddings came under scrutiny by auditors from First American, who initiated an audit of the firm when it became aware of liens that had not been paid off as expected. The audit revealed inappropriate funds transfers from the firms escrow accounts, and the firm's escrow accounts were frozen.
Since then, First American and several parties to transactions handled by the firm have filed lawsuits against the Eddings firm. The latest lawsuit, filed last week by Fannie Mae, alleges that the Eddings firm was engaged in a "criminal enterprise and a pattern of racketeering activity".
The various lawsuits allege that more than $2 million in mortgages have not been paid off as promised in closings handled by the Eddings firm. Only $470,000 remained in the company's escrow account when it was frozen. Several alleged victims have filed competing claims for the remaining money.
According to reports in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, court filings reveal that Eddings' wife Sonya told investigators at First American that she had failed to pay off the mortgages, and had been transferring "small amounts" from the firm's escrow account since 2007 in order to cover expenses at other businesses owned by the Eddings.
According to statements made by Michael Eddings' attorney Rob Poydasheff, Mr. Eddings is a victim of the alleged misappropriation. Poydasheff blames Sonya Eddings for the missing money, claiming that Mr. Eddings entrusted his company's finances to his wife. Attorney Eddings is still an listed as an attorney in good standing with the state bar association, and neither Eddings nor his wife have been charged with any crime.
Michael A. Eddings is a former U.S. Army officer who served as Commander of the U.S. Army Color Guard Company responsible for White House ceremonies from 1994 to 1996. After his military career, Eddings went to law school and has built his law practice in Columbus since 2003, becoming a high profile member of the community and serving on numerous boards.