VALDOSTA -- The sentencing phase for a local attorney who pleaded guilty to mail and bank fraud has been continued until July 21.

Willie Linahan was scheduled to appear in Thomasville at Federal Court today. An official with the U.S. Attorney's office said the sentencing was continued because Linahan's attorney had a scheduling conflict. The case was scheduled to be heard Wednesday in Valdosta, but had been moved back a day and moved to Thomasville.

Linahan was a member of Lowndes County of Board of Education and a former attorney for several area municipalities. He pleaded guilty to a single count each of mail fraud and bank fraud in front of Judge Hugh Lawson in the U.S. District Court in Macon Feb. 24.

Lawson told Linahan that his sentence depended upon the recommendation of the federal probation office, which conducts a separate investigation from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Linahan is free on a $50,000 unsecured bond with a stipulation to relinquish his passport. His travels are restricted to Georgia except for trips to the Orlando, Fla., area, and Delaware for his farm's business.

The charge of mail fraud stems from Linahan's mailing closing documents on March 9, 2000, to a mortgage company where property was purchased at $20,000 and a second party not identified by the court document raised the appraisal value $38,000 and a buyer secured a loan for $58,000.

The bank fraud charge relates to a loan of $395,000 Linahan obtained from First State Bank and Trust in October 1999 to refinance his farm. The bank loaned the money not realizing that Linahan had falsified the title search to show no liens were held by another company. Linahan also never filed a security deed, but compiled information form other documents that he sent to the bank as the purported security deed.



To contact Tanya B. O'Berry, call 244-3400, ext. 239.

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