South Carolina

Rock Hill lawyer kept $166k in breach of trust fraud in home closing, police say

Here is the criminal legal process from arrest to final court days

Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson walks though the legal process from the time someone is arrested until the time they are sentenced.
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Horry County Solicitor Jimmy Richardson walks though the legal process from the time someone is arrested until the time they are sentenced.

A Rock Hill lawyer was arrested Friday after not paying off more than $166,000 owed from a house closing, police said.

Thomas A. Givens, 66, was served an arrest warrant for felony breach of trust with fraudulent intent of more than $10,000, then booked into the Rock Hill jail, said Lt. Michael Chavis of Rock Hill Police Department.

According to the arrest warrant obtained by The Herald, Givens was the closing attorney in the sale of Thistledown Drive home in July. The buyers gave Givens a check for more than $224,000, the warrant states.

Givens was entrusted, as closing attorney, to pay off an outstanding balance of more than $166,000 on the mortgage of the previous owners, the arrest warrant states.

“Since the closing, the defendant has not paid off the pending mortgage and has not turned over any money to the victims,” the warrant states. “The defendant has used deceit to hide the fact he does not have the money and is unable to pay off the mortgage of the victims as agreed upon.”

Police also stated in the warrant that Givens did not keep the money as required by a lawyer.

“Bank records will also show that at the time the defendant was to pay off the mortgage, he did not have the funds as required by his role as closing attorney,’ the warrant states.

A conviction for the charge of breach of trust with fraudulent intent carries up to 10 years in prison under South Carolina law.

The law states, “A person committing a breach of trust with a fraudulent intention or a person who hires or counsels another person to commit a breach of trust with a fraudulent intention is guilty of larceny.”

Givens has an office on Ebenezer Road in York County. The website for Givens’ law practice states he has practiced for more than 35 years.

In 2013 Givens was ordered to pay a $4,000 fine to S.C. Department of Insurance for failing to forward more than $2,000 in premiums to a title insurance company, according to South Carolina public records.

It remains unclear what actions, if any, will be taken by S.C. Commission on Lawyer Conduct. The commission under the S.C. Supreme Court Office of Disciplinary Counsel investigates ethics claims against lawyers.

Givens was released from jail Friday after posting $50,000 bond, officials said.

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Andrew Dys covers breaking news and public safety for The Herald, where he has been a reporter and columnist since 2000. He has won 51 South Carolina Press Association awards for his coverage of crime, race, justice, and people. He is author of the book “Slice of Dys” and his work is in the U.S. Library of Congress.
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