Known for TV ads, lawyer Eichholz faces federal indictment

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SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Savannah attorney Benjamin Sheftall Eichholz - whose television ads champion "win-win" - has been named in a 77-count federal indictment charging he schemed to embezzle more than $950,000 from pension plans for employees of his law firm.

The Wednesday indictment also charges that Eichholz, 58, lied repeatedly to federal investigators and obstructed justice, U.S. Attorney Edmund Booth Jr. said Thursday in announcing the action.

Eichholz, who has practiced law in Savannah since 1976, specializes in personal injury and wrongful death claims.

Contacted at his law office Thursday, Eichholz referred all comment to his lawyer, Charles Bowen.

"Obviously, we have no comment at this time," Bowen said, adding that he received a copy of the indictment early Thursday afternoon.

No initial appearance has been scheduled before U.S. Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith.

Chief U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. has been assigned to preside in the case.

Eichholz founded the Eichholz Law Firm P.C. in September 1977. Since then his practice has variously operated as Eichholz Law Firm P.C., Eichholz and Associates P.C., and Law Offices of Benjamin Sheftall Eichholz P.C.

His frequent television advertisements, featuring actor Robert Vaughn, promise that "you mean business" when dealing with insurance companies if you are represented by the Eichholz firm.

The federal action alleges Eichholz provided the pension benefits, under his direction, to reward "long and loyal service" by employees of his firm. It was funded "solely by employer contributions," the indictment said.

Nineteen employees were participants in the plan between 2001 and October 2008 when the alleged misconduct occurred, the indictment said.

During that period, Eichholz, assisted by others, "embezzled, stole and ... converted more than $950,000 for his own interest and on his own account," the indictment charged.

During that same period, Eichholz "repeatedly executed, mailed and filed false" forms with the labor department "in an effort to both execute and conceal his scheme to defraud," the indictment charged.

He maintained bank accounts at various financial institutions using money intended for the plans and plan participants, the indictment charged.

And, it said, he "made false statements and obstructed justice ... in an effort to cover up his fraud, thefts and embezzlements."

In one instance, the indictment charges, Eichholz took $56,100 to buy himself Flora Danica fine china, which he displayed in his house."

The indictment also said he would take checks drawn on the account and deposit them into accounts that he controlled.

For example, he took $70,000 and deposited it into companies "owned and controlled by his wife," the indictment said.

The indictment is not Eichholz's first flap with the federal court for the Southern District of Georgia and its Savannah division.

In 2006, Judge Moore and fellow District Judge B. Avant Edenfield adopted findings by Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Lamar Davis Jr. and barred Eichholz from practice in that court for two years for violating rules governing lawyers' conduct in representing clients in that court.

The Georgia Supreme Court, in a ruling last month, said the State Bar of Georgia could not suspend Eichholz from practicing in State Court under the federal ruling.

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howcanweknow
2307
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howcanweknow 08/07/09 - 07:17 am
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Guess that gets his ads off

Guess that gets his ads off my TV. Thank goodness. Now, if only someone could get rid of that ambulance-chasing Ken Nugent....

onlynaugusta
41
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onlynaugusta 08/07/09 - 07:39 am
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0
Looks like he's going to need

Looks like he's going to need a lawyer!

gnumbgnuts
0
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gnumbgnuts 08/07/09 - 07:47 am
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"we mean business!"

"we mean business!"

DMac_357
1
Points
DMac_357 08/07/09 - 08:09 am
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0
Well that doesn't get his ads

Well that doesn't get his ads off the TV just yet; I'm sure he signed some type of contract for his ads to run for some time period so we'll just have to wait out the ads on the air. I wonder if he used some of the "ill gotten gains" to pay for all those ads. Once Madoff got exposed, all these other guys should've tried to fix what they broke (I mean stole) but greed and pride just won't let them do it. Let's see how this all plays out.

sharpshooter
0
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sharpshooter 08/07/09 - 09:34 am
0
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Sounds like it was an

Sounds like it was an accounting error, like everyone claims in these cases. He was caught "Enroning", while taking all the good publicity for caring for his great employee benefit plan. Odds are that one of the great employees found the fraud and turned him in. Greed has a day in court and it should be that way. Recent formula's used in these cases would have him serve 30 days in his selected jail and a $10,000.00 fine to the courts. No wonder the greed continues, the odds of getting caught are remote and the payback is a minor fraction of what is stolen. The financial penalty goes to the state coffer and not to the victims.

stormy
0
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stormy 08/07/09 - 09:39 am
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They usually get caught,

They usually get caught, but.....it keeps happening.Also in Georgia you can do most anything and get away with it. Other places might have kicked him out of the bar and to the curb.
76,00 for china is absurd unless it was his own money that purchased it.O well.

rufus
2
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rufus 08/07/09 - 09:54 am
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The guy got greedy but the

The guy got greedy but the wealth envy shown here is soooooooo funny

1941
4
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1941 08/08/09 - 08:17 am
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That is what white people

That is what white people do!!!!

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