CHARLESTON – A former Charleston attorney who was disbarred after embezzling nearly $200,000 from a law firm pleaded guilty to a federal charge of mail fraud.

Leonard S. Coleman pleaded guilty Aug. 29 in U.S. District Court to the charge. Court documents show he worked for Goodwin & Goodwin when he embezzled at least $195,740 in fees from the firm from September 2004 to May 2005.

Court documents show that Coleman, 51, was involved in bond deals and placed payments in his personal bank account. One incident involved a $10,740 check from Stonewall Resort.

"I did deposit that check in my personal account, as opposed to making it available to Goodwin and Goodwin,'' Coleman told U.S. District Judge John T. Copenhaver Jr. at Wednesday's plea hearing, according to an Associated Press report.

Coleman was fired after the problems were discovered, and he was reported to the State Bar. The state Supreme Court annulled Coleman's law license last year.

Under the plea agreement, Coleman will fully repay Goodwin & Goodwin. He already paid the firm back $3,000 in July 2005.

Coleman could receive up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 12.

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