Former Tampa lawyer arrested for embezzling at least $1.5M from charities, disabled people

Hillsborough County Jail

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A disbarred Tampa attorney faces a litany of charges after detectives say he embezzled at least $1.5 million from his clients.

Agents with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement arrested David Land Whigham on Tuesday after a year-long investigation revealed that between July 2011 and April 2016, Whigham took funds from 11 victims, including charities and disabled adults and children, and used them for his own personal benefit.

He was taken into custody and charged with 22 felony counts of grand theft and organized scheme to fraud.

Whigham is being held at the Hillsborough County Jail on a $3 million bond.

“It’s the ultimate breach of trust,” said Florida Department of Law Enforcement Special Agent Rick Taveras. “This case is unbelievable. People trust their attorneys to look out for their welfare and in this case, Mr. Whigham was taking advantage of him and lying to him.”

News Channel 8 spoke with the attorney who represents two of the alleged charities targeted, including Shriners Hospital for Children and the Scottish Rite Schizophrenic Research Foundation of the Northern Masonic jurisdiction in Lexington, Massachusetts.

“I said, ‘well, where is the money?’” attorney Hamden Baskins III told News Channel 8.  “He said, ‘I used it for expenses.’  His office expenses.  And I said ‘all of it’s gone? That’s a million dollars.’ He said ‘all of it.’”

Agents said Whigham used the money to pay credit card and cell phones bills, and for boating, hunting and fishing.

“Clients expected him to take care of their needs using their funds and instead, he used it for personal gain,” said FDLE agent Taveras.

As for the attorney representing the two charities, he’s still dumbfounded.

When asked if he’s ever come across an experience like this in his 30 years of practicing law, he said, “I never have. This is the most egregious situation I have ever seen.”

Agents believe there may be additional victims.

As for Whigham’s attorney, he wasn’t available for comment.

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