Disgraced lawyer Robert Graham, who stole millions of dollars from his clients, was sentenced to serve 16 to 40 years in prison.
He was given the maximum sentence on all five counts — two counts of theft and three counts of exploitation of an older/vulnerable person.
There was a lot of tension inside the courtroom.
The judge made her frustrations heard as Graham and his lawyer tried to explain why the disbarred attorney stole millions from his clients — among them — the elderly, orphaned children and people with disabilities.
“You take an oath as an attorney when you became a member of the state bar to protect your clients,” said Judge Kerry Earley, Clark County District Court.
Judge Earley did not hold back expressing how she felt about Graham’s actions.
“Just tell me Mr. Graham, how can you sleep at night and account for that kind of money?”
The once successful attorney tried to justify stealing $16 million from more than 100 clients, saying his law firm fell into hard times and he did not want to disappoint his employees.
“How do you account for that with this explanation?” Judge Earley asked. “Are you not responsible for it?”
“Absolutely, judge,” Graham responded.
“Well you sure wouldn’t have known that with what you just told this court Mr. Graham. That rightly almost puts just such a pit in my stomach,” Judge Earley said.
Almost a dozen family members spoke up during sentencing.
Victoria Pappalardo is now caring for her three grandchildren after their parents died in a car crash. The family never saw a penny from a life insurance policy.
“We tried to pick up the pieces and make sense of everything,” Pappalardo said.
“She trusted the defendant,” Joan Albstein said.
The daughter of Albstein is living with physical disabilities and was awarded more than $2 million in a malpractice lawsuit.
They too, never received their money.
“There’s no substitution for that money to give her the care that she needs,” Albstein said.
The judge went on to read letter from victims who couldn’t attend before giving Graham the maximum time behind bars.
“You systematically stole from people who trusted you,” Judge Earley said.
In court, Graham’s attorney argued his client did not spend Thanksgiving with his family and won’t be spending holidays with them for years to come.