Guy Bailey, the once-prominent Coconut Grove lawyer convicted of stealing $700,000 from his clients, is headed to prison for 25 months after failing to pay any restitution.
A Miami-Dade judge on Tuesday sentenced Bailey, 77, who shuffled gingerly into court and pleaded for mercy because of a condition that makes walking difficult.
Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch said little as he meted out the sentence for Bailey. He had already given Bailey a break two years earlier, sentencing him to probation so he could work to try to pay back the money.
But in an order issued in April, Hirsch was clearly perturbed that Bailey paid nothing but was able to go on family trips upstate.
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“I recognize that these family field-trips, all told, could not have cost Mr. Bailey more than hundreds of dollars, at the very most a couple of thousand dollars,” Hirsch wrote.
“But during the same period … Mr. Bailey paid not a penny toward his restitution. Perhaps he could not have paid much but he could have paid something.”
Bailey was once one of the top commercial lawyers in South Florida. He represented CenTrust Chairman David Paul, the former multimillionaire Miami power broker who did nine years in prison for bank and securities fraud in the 1980s.
But Bailey was arrested in 2010 after taking the money from a trust account set up for a father and son in a life-insurance claim case.
The Miami-Dade state attorney’s office recused itself from the case because of Bailey’s longstanding ties to the local legal community.
At trial in March 2014, Bailey took the stand to claim the money was actually a loan to be paid back later. Jurors nonetheless convicted him in March of first-degree grand theft.
“I didn’t see this coming,” Judge Hirsch said in court after the verdict.
Monroe prosecutor Colleen Dunne asked for prison time. Hirsch declined, opting instead for six years of probation.
“Guy Bailey committed his crime, not with a gun and a mask, but with a law license,” Hirsch wrote in his original sentencing order, adding later: “What pride can a just and a decent society take in a criminal justice system that tosses an ailing septuagenarian in jail to rot while making no provision for his victims?”
But when Bailey paid no money, Hirsch ruled he violated the conditions of his release.
“I beg you not to do this,” Bailey told the judge Tuesday as he continued to insist he did not steal the money.
Bailey told the judge he suffers from neuropathy in his right foot, which makes walking difficult without a brace and bars him from doing even menial labor.
“I don’t think I’ll die in prison, but I don’t think I’ll make it out without serious injury,” Bailey said.
Hirsch ordered that he be taken into custody immediately. Miami-Dade police officers gently cuffed Bailey and walked him into a secured area of the courthouse, into a holding cell.
“Mr. Bailey had every opportunity to right his wrong when he was originally sentenced to probation with his only condition being that he pay restitution,” prosecutor Dunne said afterward. “Despite the court's leniency, he made no attempts to repay the victims and in the end it was his arrogance that resulted in him being sentenced to prison.”