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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that a case has been resolved against a former Rock County attorney charged with stealing money from his clients.


John E. Sanborn, 68, pleaded guilty last Friday to one count of theft by fraud in Rock County Circuit Court. According to the criminal complaint, Sanborn obtained money from a former client by falsely representing that he was providing legal services on behalf of the client's husband. As part of the plea, Sanborn made a payment of $12,500 to the clerk for partial restitution to the victim.


At sentencing, the Honorable Daniel Larocque placed Sanborn on 5 years of probation. As conditions of probation, the judge ordered (1) assessment and counseling, (2) that Sanborn not hold or accept money in a fiduciary capacity, (3) that Sanborn pay an additional $12,500 in restitution to the victim and (4) that various costs be paid to the court. The judge did not order any conditional jail time, however, due to the defendant's numerous mental and physical health issues.


Sanborn previously pleaded guilty last May in Rock County in a separate theft case involving another former client. According to the criminal complaint in that case, Sanborn retained money from his client by improperly converting an accident settlement check to his own use or to the use of another person. Sanborn made full restitution in that case of $2,675.53 and was placed on 3 years of probation by Judge Larocque.


"Lawyers who steal money from their clients must be held accountable," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.


Both cases against Sanborn were investigated by special agents in the Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation. The prosecution was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Erik Kinnunen and Michael Schaefer as special prosecutors for Rock County.