Leesburg Attorney Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Embezzlement

A former Leesburg lawyer has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for his role in mismanaging several estates and embezzling those funds.

J. Christopher Chamblin was sentenced in federal court Tuesday to 60 months in prison, with credit for time served, and an order to pay $691,385.81 in restitution. He will be on supervised probation for three years following his release.

Chamblin was disbarred in the fall of 2019 after admitting to misappropriating more than $850,000from several estates for which he had been appointed by the Circuit Court to serve as administrator.

According to a June 16 federal court filing, Chamblin abused his position of trust as administrator of the estates to embezzle funds from at least five estates, including by writing himself checks drawn on the estates’ bank accounts, depositing those checks into his own bank personal accounts, and then spending the funds for his own personal benefit.

He was also accused of embezzling funds from two unnamed civic organizations, for which he served as treasurer.

The wire fraud charge stems from Sept. 17, 2019, when Chamblin caused a check in the amount of $20,000 to be issued that was drawn on a bank account held in the name of one of the trusts he oversaw. Chamblin deposited the check into his business bank account, causing an interstate wire communication between Washington, DC, and Virginia.

Court filings indicate that Chamblin repaid some of the funds he embezzled back to the trusts, with interest, but the repayments likely stemmed from embezzling from other estates. In the signed affidavit consenting to his law license revocation, Chamblin indicated that untreated depression was likely a contributing factor to his misconduct.

In the restitution order, Chamblin is required to pay $109,865.38 to an estate listed as “A.B.”; $3,000 and $7,500, respectively, to the two unnamed civic organizations; and $571,020.43 to the Ohio Casualty Insurance Company after all other named parties are paid first.

In her filing on sentencing recommendations, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Pedersen argued in support of a sentence on the higher end of sentencing guidelines, from 51 to 63 months. In spite of Chamblin’s lack of criminal history up until now, Pedersen pointed to the financial and emotional damage caused by his actions over a lengthy period of time. Chamblin would gain the trust of the estates’ decedents, she argued, due to his stature in the community as the son of a now-retired Circuit Court judge, and with his calm and friendly demeanor. However, when Chamblin would be challenged by the families to account for discrepancies in his accounting, he would often cut off communication, she said. 

Even after Chamblin was removed as executor and administrator of the estates in the summer of 2019 after failing to produce documentation requested by the Loudoun County Circuit Court Commissioner of Accounts, the court filing notes, he wrote three checks to his law firm from one estate, and the two restaurants owned by that estate, to the tune of $75,000. 

Since his crimes have been brought to light and guilt admitted, Chamblin has never accounted for how he used the misappropriated funds, and, other than indicating mental health issues as a contributing factor, has never provided justification for his actions, Pedersen said.

Arguing in favor of a sentence below guidelines, Chamblin’s attorney Steven Webster pointed to Chamblin’s lack of criminal history and said his client was “highly unlikely to reoffend.” Webster’s sentencing memorandum was heavily redacted, citing confidential information related to Chamblin’s physical and mental health.

The date on which Chamblin must surrender to federal authorities to begin his sentence was not immediately clear. 

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