LIMA — A disbarred attorney whose gambling addiction led to the loss of his law license pleaded guilty Wednesday to four felony charges.
Stephen Becker, 65, will face up to 7.5 years in prison when he is sentenced, which is scheduled for March 23. Becker pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and two counts of falsification, all felonies.
Becker is out of jail on bail and was allowed to remain out after his change of plea. He told the judge he planned to return to his home in Florida but would be back for his sentencing.
Prosecutors accused Becker of misappropriating hundreds of thousands of dollars in money entrusted to him by his elderly aunt, who died in 2008, and his severely developmentally disabled nephew, according to records.
He took the money and also wrote various checks to casinos, according to Ohio Supreme Court records. He also gave money to friends and family, according to records.
The crimes happened from April 2002 to October 2010, according to Allen County court records.
While Becker reported his actions to the Ohio Supreme Court, he only did so after he was confronted by associates of his previous law firm, Huffman, Kelley, Becker & Brock in Lima (now known as Huffman, Kelley, Brock & Gottschalk). One of the theft charges is connected to the law firm alleging he stole between $1,000 and $7,500, according to records.
Becker ’s attorney when disciplinary action was before the Ohio Supreme Court said Becker owes the IRS a considerable amount of money and was facing foreclosure on his home.
The former Lima attorney lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife. His wife has an income and does not allow Becker to handle any substantial amount of money, his attorney said.
Becker became an attorney in 1975.