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Family says conservator bilked $300K from mother's estate

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

At some point, many people will be faced with making decisions for an older relative, and you would think a lawyer would be a good person to trust.

But the Channel 4 I-Team has uncovered another case of a court-appointed conservator accused of allegedly taking advantage of a family.

John E. Clemmons' law license was suspended a few months ago after he was accused of writing himself more than $50,000 in unauthorized fees from the bank account of a disabled client.

Now, another family says they're out more than $300,000.

Nannie Malone was afflicted with cancer and Alzheimer's disease when the court appointed a lawyer to be her conservator.

A conservator is someone's who's been appointed as sort of a guardian over a person and their belongings. The conservator makes all the decisions for that person when they can no longer make decisions for themselves.

Often, a conservator is appointed if the person has no family or if there are family conflicts.

And sometimes the conservator is an attorney, which was the case with Clemmons and Malone.

Malone had a million-dollar estate with 68 aces of farm property until Clemmons took over her financial affairs.

Clemmons put her in a nursing home, although the family wanted her home, and he told the family there was no money for the hair salon or diapers.

"I hated every minute in that place," said Malone's daughter, Teresa Lyle.

The family has filed a civil suit against Clemmons, saying that instead of caring for Malone, he was stealing her money.

The family claims within two days of taking control of Malone's bank account, Clemmons wrote a check to himself for $10,000. It would be the first of many.

The family's lawyer found Clemmons had written himself 60 different checks over a period of just over two years, totaling $367,000, all while telling the family all her money was gone.

She died of cancer in October 2012.

"Just one of those checks would have paid for the medicine she needed, for her cancer drug that he stopped paying for," Lyle said.

The family sat by her as she died in pain in the nursing home, and it wasn't an easy death.

"A dog shouldn't have to die that way," said Malone's daughter-in-law, Lisa Boone.

Clemmons' attorney didn't return calls from Channel 4 News for this story.

Malone's children not only lost their mother, but they also lost everything that she had collected - all the precious memories. Clemmons sold everything at auction.

"They sold her clothes, family photos in that auction," Lyle said. "It was one of the saddest days I've ever been through."

"And now, seeing the money that has been taken from her, it's like living her death all over again," Boone said.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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