Tolbert: up to seven years in prison

John Christensen

Penn Yan attorney Charles Tolbert 162 Main St., was sentenced by Judge Patrick Falvey to no less than two and a third years and no more than seven years in state prison for his conviction on three charges of third degree grand larceny, class D felonies.

Tolbert had been indicted by the Yates County Grand Jury on May 20, 2010 for two counts of grand larceny in the third degree, and six counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, class E felonies. A third set of charges was brought  Sept. 29 when a Rochester resident and former client of Tolbert's alleged that Tolbert withheld $6,500 from him after a legal proceeding.

In a plea bargain agreement with District Attorney Jason Cook, Tolbert pled guilty to the most serious charges before trial. Tolbert admits he stole money from three of his clients to a total sum of $28,697.79. Cook asked Falvey for a severe sentence as Tolbert's crime was compounded by the "breach of his client's trust, and the violation of his oath as an attorney."

Tolbert spoke of his remorse for "letting things get away from him," and begged the court's mercy.

When Falvey asked if he had made any attempt at restitution, Tolbert answered, no, he hadn't been financially able to do so. Tolbert had filed for bankruptcy, allegedly attempting to claim his victims as creditors, but his case was dismissed.

The nearly $30,000 owed to his clients may be paid by the trustees of the New York Lawyers' Fund, who would then pursue Tolbert for reimbursement.

"This is a sad case, especially in a small community like ours," added Cook.