Local CPA Jeffrey E. Lewis has been charged with unlawful, intentional, and felonious misappropriation or misuse of funds or assets of John K. Dawkins of $832,992.65. Lewis, as a trustee of the Dawkins TEST Trust, wilfully with the intent to defraud, embezzle, misappropriate or fraudulently convert for his own benefit, assets which he has been entrusted to oversee at a value of greater than $1,000.
On May 6, Sgt. W. A. Pendleton met with Greenbrier County Prosecutor Patrick Via and his assistant Ryan Blake to begin an investigation into the possible misappropriation of funds from a Trust of John R. Dawkins, established to benefit and care for John Kay Dawkins, the son of John R. Dawkins, through a Testamentary trust established for his care, as the named beneficiary therein. John Kay Dawkins is a 73-year-old male with both mental and physical limitations, requiring around the clock care to provide for his needs.
Pendleton found that Jeffrey Einer Lewis, a licensed CPA in Greenbrier County, was named the trustee of the John R. Dawkins Testamentary Trust on Mar. 22, 2010. During the course of the investigation, the officer found that on July 13, barely four months later, the Trust received a $2,749,853.00 payment for a lease on mineral rights for property found to have been owned by John R. Dawkins at the time of his death. The payment was from Dale Property Services Penn, LP in Canonsburg, PA.
Lewis, as Trustee, accepted the check on behalf of the trust and placed the funds with HD Vess Investment Corp. Lewis did not notify or speak with John Kay Dawkins to inform him that he received such payment. After receiving said payment, Lewis issued himself a check out of the account of the Trust for $137,492.65 on Aug. 19, 2010.
Pendleton found during the course of the investigation that from Aug. 19, 2010 to Mar. 18, 2014, Lewis had issued himself a total of $832,992.65 in checks and wire transfers that were considered highly questionable. This amount did not include the $1,500 monthly fee Lewis charged the Trust to manage said trust.
Sgt. Pendleton met with John Kay Dawkins and found that Dawkins did appear to have both physical and mental limitations that caused him to have a need for constant care to provide for his needs. However, Dawkins was able to comprehend and understand what the officer was saying to him. Dawkins stated he was unaware of such payments and he never agreed or allowed Lewis to take money out of said trust for any personal use.
On May 7, Sgt. Pendleton met with Lewis, who waived his right to counsel and agreed to be interviewed. Lewis admitted to taking the money from the Trust but referred to the money as loans or investments. He admitted to not informing Dawkins of the lease payment of more than $2.7 million. Lewis stated that he issued himself a check for $137,492.65 because he felt he deserved the money. Lewis told the officer that he also borrowed/loaned money to himself, from the trust, to purchase a home for his son, provide working capital to a local business he was affiliated with and buy stock in that business for himself. He said he did not feel he stole the money because he signed “promise to pay on demand” notes for the trust, and that he was going to pay the money back.
Later, on May 12, Sgt. Pendleton again met with Jeffrey Lewis, this time in the presence of his attorney, and presented him with copies of the checks he’d written to himself for large sums of money and the “promise to pay on demand” notes. It was at that time Lewis admitted he did not prepare or sign the notes until after the investigation by HD Vest Investment Corp. began on May 1. It should be noted that Lewis began taking money from the trust on Aug. 19, 2010, and only now has secured promissory notes for repayment after an official investigation was begun.
Lewis also admitted to making false documentation on at least one of the checks issued to himself in the memo section of the check. He had written “Fees” in the memo section and admitted that that was in fact a false notation. That particular check was in the amount of $20,000 written to himself and signed Jeffrey E. Lewis, Trustee. As trustee, Jelriey E. Lewis converted at least $832,992.65 to his own personal use when such assets were to be used to care for John K. Dawkins. Lewis provided no securities for these loans and or investments.
In an historical note, in August of 2009 a complaint was filed before the Circuit Court of Greenbrier County to remove Jesse O. Guills as trustee of the John R. Dawkins Trust by the trust beneficiary John Kay Dawkins through his attorneys Barth & Thompson of Charleston. That filing claimed ten counts of “…extraordinary, unjustified, and unjustifiable fees and expenses.” Guills had served as sole trustee for the trust since the death of John R. Dawkins on Dec. 8, 1999. The Dawkins will bequeathed the sum of $1 million to Guills to fund a Testamentary Trust for the benefit of the plaintiff, John Kay Dawkins who suffers from a spina bifida malformation as well as other medical problems.
According to the brief filed, a review of the annual accounting for the years 2002 through 2008 alleged that Guills had been paying himself “…excessive fees from the assets of the trust and receiving even more money from the trust than the plaintiff.”