A disbarred Sarasota-based attorney was sentenced to 30 days in jail and more than four years of probation for stealing more than $16,000 from a bank.
Kallen Eslich, 40, pleaded guilty last month to one count of grand theft of $10,000 to $20,000.
When Eslich was first arrested May 27, 2015, he was initially charged with two counts of scheme to defraud and one count of uttering a forged instrument. Only one charge of scheme to defraud was formally filed by the State Attorney’s Office in the case, which was later amended to one count of grand theft when Eslich changed his plea.
On Wednesday afternoon, Eslich appeared before Circuit Judge Hunter Carroll to be sentenced.
Eslich’s defense argued that he was driven by mental illness and a gambling addiction that led him to deposit and cash checks that were later returned for lack of funds —but not before he got away with more than $16,000.
“While banks may have lots of money, that is still not a reason to not punish you for that,” Carroll said.
Carroll did grant defense attorney Frederick Wernicke’s request that the conviction be withheld to better enable him to get a job so he can make restitution and child-support payments to his ex-wife.
Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro had argued for more jail time, saying that taking $200 and turning it into $16,000 had been a very complex, calculating crime that took a great deal of intelligence with how quick banks are to catch things today.
Carroll sentenced Eslich to 58 months of probation, with a condition of probation be that he serve 30 days in jail. He was immediately remanded into custody.
Eslich’s mother, sister and ex-wife began to cry as he was handcuffed and taken away, as he assured them that it would be OK.
Conditions of his probation also include that he repay all the money, show proof of continued attendance with a mental health provider, not go to any casinos or bingo halls and pay court costs.
“You’ve hit the low point in your life, you are actually going to go up sir,” Carroll told him. “I hope you take this opportunity to address to the issues in your life.”