Lawyer settles civil suit
Gomez, insurance company agree to pay $265,000
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
Assistant News Editor
Mark Andrew Gomez, the Newnan attorney who gave up his license after admitting to taking money belonging to a local handicapped man, has reached an agreement in a civil suit brought by the man's guardian.
Gomez, who practiced law in Newnan for several years, pleaded guilty in February to stealing and misusing funds belonging to Gary Wayne Thompson. Gomez served as legal guardian for Thompson, who suffers from a permanent brain injury, for several years starting in 1995.
In an agreement filed in Coweta Superior Court on June 12 and approved by Superior Court Judge William F. Lee, Gomez and the Hartford Fire Insurance Company, from whom Gomez purchased a probate bond, agreed to pay $265,000 to Thompson's estate.
Local accountant Rhonda McClendon is serving as guardian for Thompson. The Coweta Department of Family and Children Services is serving as guardian of his person.
The insurance company agreed to pay $245,000 to Thompson's estate, and Gomez agreed to pay $20,000 to the estate and $15,000 to Hartford. The payment by Gomez to Hartford is a condition of his probation.
Gomez will be allowed to pay the $20,000 in four installments of $5,000 each -- on Dec. 15 of this year; on June 15, 2002; on Dec. 15, 2002; and on Dec. 15, 2003. No interest will accrue unless payments are not made at outlined by the agreement.
Money due to the estate -- from the period when Gomez was Thompson's guardian -- will now be due to Hartford. Those fees include $13,906.44 in insurance claims and a $9,274.19 annuity settlement.
Once all payments have been made to the estate, the civil counts against co-defendants Jamie Robertson, Bret Robertson, Leigh Ann Ware and Derwin Ware will be dismissed, according to the final agreement.
The civil case was brought by Atlanta attorney Millard Farmer, who grew up in Newnan.
An agreement in the case calls for payments of $30,000 to Donna Milliken, $35,000 to McClendon's accounting firm for investigative and accounting expenses and transfer of the title of Thompson's Volvo sedan from Gomez to McClendon. Milliken, Thompson's former wife, loaned the estate $30,000 to start the civil suit.
The car title has been transferred, and Hartford has made the $245,000 payment to Thompson's estate.