SAN ANTONIO – A longtime San Antonio attorney was sentenced to 10 years probation in a forgery of the elderly case Tuesday, but not before the judge criticized him for failing to take responsibility for his crimes.
“You must not have practiced too much criminal law,” said 379th District Judge Ron Rangel, who asked ex-attorney Tamer Morsi five times if he stole from his clients before Morsi finally answered, “I did, Your Honor.”
Morsi at first answered that he pleaded no contest, then said that he had made mistakes with his clients and had misappropriated their funds, before finally giving the judge a satisfactory answer.
“It’s not very wise to come in and speak legalese when you’re trying to obtain a plea bargain agreement,” said Rangel.
Morsi, who resigned his license to practice law in November 2018 in lieu of the state taking disciplinary action against him, was the subject of a large number of complaints filed with local law enforcement agencies and the Texas State Bar.
He was only ever indicted in a single case, involving an elderly client who said Morsi cashed an insurance check meant for her and kept the proceeds.
A second case against Morsi, a theft complaint filed by another client, was taken into consideration as part of a plea agreement signed by Morsi in October but was never formally filed.
He was required to pay back $4,000 of the more than $22,000 owed in restitution up front, or else risk going to prison for up to six years, according to the signed agreement.
The hearing on Tuesday was not without controversy, however, as the victim in the theft case that was never filed submitted a letter to the court criticizing Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales for not taking Morsi to trial.
“The biggest threat to justice in Bexar County it seems is in your very office!” the letter stated.
Rangel also said he received four emails from the woman, but could not address her complaints because his court did not have jurisdiction over her case, since it was never filed.
The prosecutor assigned to the case said in court that he was provided information that the woman refused to accept restitution payments directly from Morsi and instead wanted to be paid back through a client security fund.
Catherine Babbitt, the DA’s chief of major crimes, appeared in court shortly before Morsi was sentenced but was not in court for the formal proceeding.
A spokeswoman for the DA’s office did not respond to repeated requests to speak to the prosecutor on the case after sentencing.
Lawyer turned lemon delivery driver
Morsi said in court that he would only be able to afford paying back between $150-$200 a month because he is no longer practicing law and is instead working as a driver delivering lemons for $13.50 an hour.
At that rate, it would take him around 10 years to finish paying back the victims.
Morsi sat in the courtroom for about 90 minutes after being sentenced before finally walking into the hallway.
He did not respond to several questions from the Defenders as he left the courthouse.