Former Missouri lawyer guilty of stealing from trust

Tuesday, August 31, 2010 | 2:00 p.m. CDT

BLOOMFIELD — A former Cape Girardeau lawyer has pleaded guilty of felony stealing for embezzling $325,000 from a deceased client's trust fund.

The Southeast Missourian reports that 67-year-old Joe T. Buerkle entered the plea Monday, admitting he deposited more than 30 checks while managing the account of the late Donald P. Thomasson. The account was for money for Thomasson's children until they reached a certain age.

Buerkle could get up to 15 years in prison. Cape Girardeau County prosecutor Morley Swingle says the amount of prison time will be determined in part by how much of the restitution can be made up before sentencing.

Buerkle has resigned from his firm and surrendered his law license.