The desire to become a professional poker player led an Ohio lawyer to embezzle more than $435,000 from his clients in a bid to realise his dream, and this week he was convicted on 14 counts after his wife testified against him in court.
40-year old Robert Searfoss III found himself charged with a total of 14 felony counts, including charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft and money laundering after he was ‘alleged to have taken $435,000 from the trust of Eric Walker, who made Searfoss trustee of the trust after he served as Walker's lawyer during a divorce proceeding’, according to reports of his trial.
Searfoss' wife, Katherine, appeared as a witness for the prosecution, and testified on the stand that Searfoss was considering switching careers, from attorney to professional poker player, and ‘for a time would go to the Hollywood Casino in Toledo three to five times a week’ – the casino the site of his arrest in May of this year.
His wife claimed that she "never really asked where the funds were coming from," and believed that his money was work-related, stating:
"From what I understood, he had a good stretch, had a lot of clients pay, and we could afford it."
The reality, according to the state prosecutors, was that Searfoss ‘took the funds without Walker's consent’, claiming that he used the stolen money to buy a house in Perrysburg as well as to pay back taxes and child support among other things.
Searfoss’ defence lawyers, however, contended that Walker instead loaned Searfoss the money, his attorney Richard Kerger stating that payments on the loan were made.
His wife, when asked:"Did you ever stop and wonder where all of the money was coming from for all of his debts and all of the things he was buying?" she replied, "I just trusted my husband”.
Although there was no direct evidence offered that the stolen money was used for poker purposes, Searfoss was alleged to have spent more than $371,000 during an 11-day period in April 2015.
His Hendon Mob results show an uninspiring record of 8 tournament cashes totalling $21,761 over a period of ten years, although it was suggested that he focused more on cash games, Cardschat.com relating that his wife’s testimony included claims that he ‘had been seeking advice from Ohio grinders about making the transition’ to poker pro.
The jury in his trial found him guilty on all charges and a sentencing date of January 2nd has been scheduled.