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Former attorney convicted of stealing

A former Santa Ynez attorney was convicted September 20, 2008, of defrauding senior-citizen clients of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Alan Courtney’s trial lasted six weeks, but the Santa Maria jury deliberated just hours before returning with guilty verdicts on all seven felony counts Courtney was charged with.

He was found guilty of four counts of filing a false tax return, two counts of theft from an elder or dependent adult and one count of forgery.

The jury also found that the amount of money Courtney stole from the elderly victims exceeded $100,000 in both instances.

Courtney, who had been free during the trial, was immediately handcuffed and taken into custody at the conclusion of the court hearing before Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Arthur Garcia.

Courtney, in his mid-50s, stood trial on similar charges late last year and early this year in Santa Maria. A mistrial was declared after the jury spent more than five days deliberating the evidence and said they were unable to reach a unanimous decision.

The most recent trial was a retrial of the case, with the charges reduced from 13 counts to seven.

Courtney represented one of the victims, Rex Phillips of Solvang, and his wife, Diane, during a home sale. The other victims in the case, Frank Cox and Betty Moran, are relatives of Courtney.

Courtney was based in Santa Ynez at the time of the crimes in 2003 and 2004, but has since moved his law practice to Creston in northeastern San Luis Obispo County.

The State Bar will be notified of Courtney’s conviction.

Courtney had $68,000 in unpaid state income taxes, in addition to penalties, interest, and the cost of the investigation that he will have to pay to the Franchise Tax Board.