Former Lincolnton attorney John O. Lafferty Jr. is currently being held at the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center for failure to appear in court Monday, Sept. 30. He is being held on a $1 million cash bond.
Lafferty was arrested Wednesday, Sept. 25 in Carteret County after the Gr Jury of Lincoln County turned a True Bill of Indictment charging Lafferty with embezzling funds in excess of $100,000 which is a Class C Felony. At the time of the offense, which occurred May 8, Lafferty was a guardian, administrator, executor, trustee, receiver fiduciary of Wayne Tillman Saine.
He posted a $250,000 bond was released pending a first appearance in Lincoln County Superior Court on Monday.
When Lafferty failed to appear Monday morning, Judge Forrest Bridges issued a bench warrant for his arrest. He was located by bail bondsmen late Monday remed into custody in Lincoln County.
Shackled in an orange prison jumpsuit, Lafferty appeared in court Tuesday afternoon before Judge Bridges. After reviewing paperwork, Bridges informed Lafferty that the maximum penalty for a Class C Felony was 231 months. Lafferty requested a court appointed attorney, which Bridges granted saying he would request that Daniel Talbert, a criminal defense attorney in Shelby, take his case.
While in the courtroom, Lafferty explained that he was in Black Mountain staying at a hotel over the weekend. He said he had been sick all day Sunday, woke up still feeling ill Monday, went back to bed. When he checked out of the hotel later in the day Monday, he said the bail bondsmen were waiting on him.
This isn’t the same story that District Attorney Mike Miller received from the bail bondsmen, who told him that they had been tracking Lafferty most of the day Monday as he drove throughout western North Carolina, into Hickory, then in South Carolina Tennessee before finally tracking him down at a hotel in Asheville.
After hearing this, Bridges said that he wasn’t going to modify the conditions of Lafferty’s release, leaving it at a $1 million cash bond.
The Lincolnton attorney was disbarred April 5 for willfully failing to file federal state income taxes in a timely manner from 2000-2017, failing to pay an indeterminate amount of federal state taxes for that timeframe knowingly failing to timely respond to the state bar’s investigation inquiries, according to North Carolina Lawyers Weekly.
Lafferty had been an active member of the bar since 1972. His law office was on East Main Street in Lincolnton.
Lafferty voluntarily relinquished his license conceded that the facts of the investigation were true. He acknowledged that he couldn’t successfully defend himself against any disciplinary charges established by the misconduct. Given he had relinquished his license in April, he should not have been practicing law in May when the alleged embezzlement occurred.
Additionally, in May 2018, Lafferty was reprimed by the bar for failing to timely respond to the state bar’s notices of grievances filed against him. Investigations found that Lafferty failed to prepare file a 90-day preliminary inventory for an estate failed to reasonably communicate with the client regarding that filing.
Investigation is ongoing, according to Miller, who indicated that he hoped to have this case back in trial in November or December.