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Suspended attorney pleads guilty to stealing from clients

Suspended personal injury lawyer Douglas Crawford pleaded guilty Monday to stealing $304,831 from clients.

Crawford, 55, once a regular on KSNV-TV, Channel 3, programs, entered a guilty plea to two felony theft charges stemming from the thefts, which occurred between November 2005 and May 2007.

District Judge Donald Mosley set a Jan. 4 sentencing.

Afterward, Crawford apologized.

“I deeply and humbly apologize for betraying the trust of clients who entrusted their lives to me,” Crawford said. “I’m terribly sorry for what I did. I was wrong. My desire from the start of this case was to make my victims whole.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Rutledge, who is prosecuting Crawford, said the Nevada State Bar has reported that Crawford has paid only $100 in restitution to his clients.

Rutledge said he intends to seek prison time for Crawford, who faces up to 10 years behind bars on each count.

The thefts first surfaced in disciplinary proceedings before the Nevada State Bar, which temporarily suspended Crawford from practicing law in May 2007. The bar later recommended disbarring Crawford, but the Nevada Supreme Court instead suspended him in February 2009 for five years, saying his personal problems factored into its decision.

Crawford told the State Bar during his disciplinary proceedings that he stole the money to support gambling, alcohol and drug addictions. The Supreme Court said he also suffered from depression.

“I did it because I completely lost touch with myself and with everything,” Crawford said during the bar proceedings.

The Supreme Court ordered Crawford to continue to meet weekly with his psychiatrist and to attend regular gamblers anonymous meetings.

In an Oct. 4 interview with detectives, Crawford acknowledged that he was “horrible” and had “hurt people.”

When detectives told Crawford “heart-wrenching” stories of financial harm caused by his actions, Crawford responded: “I deserve to be held accountable for what I did to those people, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make this right.”

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