Former Breckenridge attorney gets 12 years
Summit Daily News
Aspen, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – Former Breckenridge attorney Royal “Scoop” Daniel III was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in state prison, the maximum for the charges he faced, and ordered to pay more than $460,000 in restitution at a sentencing hearing Thursday afternoon.
Daniel, who disappeared in 2007 along with more than $900,000 of his clients’ money, pleaded guilty to two charges of felony theft in February while insisting that his crimes were not intentional.
Judge Karen Romeo named Daniel’s breach of his position of trust with the victims among her top reasons for the sentence and listed the entire Breckenridge community among his victims.
“This was a fall from grace,” Romeo said. “It takes years and years to build trust and a reputation, and in one fell swoop it all comes crashing down.”
Daniel was a respected attorney and active member of the Breckenridge community when he disappeared five years ago, leaving some fearing he’d met with foul play. It was discovered later that he had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients who had left the money in his possession during real estate exchanges. Daniel was using the money he was holding for clients to cover expenses for his floundering legal business, he told the court Thursday.
Daniel, 66, expressed a strong desire to make restitution to the victims. He said he hoped to publish a novel he wrote in jail and to use the income to pay back the money he owes. One of several supporters who spoke on his behalf at the hearing also offered him a job.
Several people stood up to testify in Daniel’s defense, all calling him a good friend. His supporters filled two benches behind the defense table.
“Part of me wants to beat the living tar out of him, and part of me wants to hug him as my old friend,” attorney Jeffrey Ryan said at the hearing. “He was a good friend to me and a good person, and I think that counts for something.”
Three victims spoke out against Daniel, explaining how his theft affected their lives after his disappearance. Breckenridge builder Craig Campbell said the financial crisis he faced after Daniel stole $170,000 from him caused him to become depressed. Another victim said he was forced to lay off employees, and the resulting financial turmoil nearly broke up his marriage.
“He hurt good people,” Campbell told the judge. “The pain of his actions is still felt today.”
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