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Wayne County Attorney Sentenced For Embezzling Funds From Deceased Client's Trust

(CBS Detroit) -- A Wayne County attorney has been sentenced after he was charged with embezzling money from his deceased client's trust.

According to the Michigan Attorney General's office, 64-year-old Anthony Semaan, of Grosse Pointe Park, was sentenced Wednesday to two years' probation, substance abuse assessment, psychological assessment, cognitive therapy and $2,848 in costs and fees. Semaan was also given a one-day credit for time served.

He was charged in April and then pleaded guilty in November to embezzlement $50,000 to $100,000. His conviction was reported to the State Bar of Michigan.

"Professionals who misappropriate the funds of their clients also exploit their trust and will be held accountable by this office," said Attorney General Dana Nessel.

State officials say Semaan drafted the client's trust in 2011, two years before the client died. Fifty percent of the trust was allocated to Michigan Humane.

Because the assets were intended for a charity, charitable trust provisions required the AG's office to be involved, officials say.

In 2016, Semaan was tasked with distributing funds according to what was specified in the trust after all expenses were paid. Officials say he put more than $262,000 into his lawyer's trust/escrow account and distributed two payments to individuals named in the trust.

However, he did not provide Michigan Human with a notice of its interest in the trust or with the 50% disbursement.

"Older individuals who use professionals for estate planning should be able to rely on those professionals to follow the law and make sure the money is distributed in accordances with their wishes. When those professionals misappropriate those funds, my department stands ready to hold them accountable," Nessel said back in November.

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