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Lawyer who stole from dementia patient sentenced

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MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

A Nashville attorney has been sentenced to an additional eight years in prison for stealing money from the wards he was supposed to protect.

John E. Clemmons was appointed as the conservator for a Rutherford County man with dementia who was confined to a nursing home. An investigation by the Rutherford County Clerk and Master discovered Clemmons had stolen about $120,000 from the ward, Russell Church.

Clemmons agreed to an eight-year sentence, to be served consecutively, after an 18-year sentence in Davidson County. As part of the agreement, if Clemmons is ever paroled on the Nashville charges, he will come back to Rutherford County to find out whether his eight-year sentence will be served in prison or on probation.

Rutherford Clerk and Master John Bratcher's office discovered the theft.

"I have no sympathy for him," Bratcher said.

Clemmons' defense attorney told the judge that Clemmons had a gambling problem.

"We're defending a man seeking mercy at this point," defense attorney Bob Lynch told the judge.

"Gambling was part of it," Lynch said.

"He was a high roller," Bratcher said. "He used people who were helpless. He used the money of people who were helpless and he had taken an oath to protect."

After Bratcher discovered the Rutherford theft, more victims learned Clemmons had been doing the same thing in Davidson County for nearly 10 years.

Teresa Lyle's mother Nannie Malone was one of his victims.

"If Davidson County had just done their job, like Mr. Bratcher and his office did, we wouldn't be here, now," Lyle said.

Lyle discovered that Clemmons stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from her mother's accounts, while telling the family there was no money to pay for her cancer treatments.

"My mother suffered a lot. I just wanted justice," Lyle said.

The victim in the Rutherford County case was able to get all his money back; Clemmons sold some family land to make restitution.

The Davidson County victims are still trying to recover more than a million dollars Clemmons stole from them.

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