Judge delays fraud trial of former Sutherland partner to determine competency

Criminal Justice


A federal magistrate judge has delayed the criminal fraud trial of a former partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan to determine whether he is competent.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Linda Walker ordered the delay to allow for the selection of a physician who will examine the former partner, 76-year-old Bennett Kight, according to the Daily Report (sub. req.).

Kight is accused of stealing more than $2 million from a former client at the law firm to pay off his mortgage and make personal investments. The federal indictment identifies the victim only as “F.B.,” but a civil suit claims Kight diverted trust funds he oversaw for Frances Bunzl, the wife of a wealthy industrialist.

Sutherland, now known as Eversheds Sutherland, has said Kight retired in 1999 and provided no services on behalf of the firm at the time of the alleged wrongdoing. The civil suit filed in 2015 had alleged Bunzl family members believed the firm was representing them.

Kight’s lawyers maintain an MRI showed that brain cells had died in an area of Kight’s brain affecting judgment, memory, motivation and personality, according to the Daily Report article. Kight’s lawyers said he suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2008 and continued to decline after that. He now has a language impairment, the lawyers say.

Kight still managed the Bunzl trusts for at least four years after the 2008 hemorrhage, according to court records cited by the Daily Report.

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