MIRAMAR (CBSMiami) - In a stunning reversal of fortune, a South Florida man has been given the home of one of his lawyers who he says ripped him off.
"I feel vindicated. It's been a long process. I've had to learn the hard way," said Patrick Coulton.
His ordeal began in 2008 when Coulton was arrested on drug conspiracy charges.
Coulton hired attorneys Peter Mayas and Emmanuel Roy to represent him.
At the time, he was unaware that neither man had permission to work in Federal Court in South Florida.
They had Coulton take a plea to 15 years in prison and then abandoned him—but not before taking everything he had to the tune of $275,000.
"They took his townhome, his furnishings, cars, jewelry even the bedsheets and DVD's…everything," said attorney Paul Petruzzi who helped Coulton reclaim his life.
"Sometimes the people that are supposed to be trusted, abuse that trust for their own benefit," said Petruzzi.
First Petruzzi had Coulton's prison sentence cut in half. Then he set about getting Coulton's money back.
"I couldn't have lived with myself if I didn't do anything about it."
After a long legal battle, a judge ordered Mayas to turn over the keys to his $270,000 Miramar home to Coulton.
Coulton is in the process of moving into the home. While he has to pay back homeowners association dues and repair the house, Coulton feels he has obtained justice.
"I think everything comes full circle," Coulton said.
Currently one of his original lawyers, Emmanuel Roy, is serving a seven year prison term for mortgage fraud.
Mayas has denied in court that he was ever hired to represent Coulton.
Nevertheless, a judge decided Mayas should turn over the keys to 'his' Miramar home.
Coulton is philosophical about all that happened and offers this advice.
"I think in life you need a good mechanic, a doctor and a good lawyer. You have to be absolutely sure your attorney will serve you well," said Coulton.
"The case isn't closed on either one of them. Hopefully they both will be investigated by the U.S. Attorney's office," said Petruzzi. "Hopefully one or both of them will do what they're supposed to do and give Mr. Coulton back the rest of the money he is owed."
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