Joseph M. Kyle, a 53-year-old Silver Spring laywer and former member of the Montgomery County council, was given a three-year suspended sentence yesterday in circuit court for misappropriating more than $9,000 from a client's escrow account.
Kyle, who practiced law for more than 25 years in the county but was recently disbarred, broke into tears as he apologized in court for taking money meant for the stepchildren of Edward Clark.
"I did the worst thing a lawyer can do," he said, standing before Judge Samuel W. Barrick. "I violated my trust. Clark was a friend and a client. The money was for the benefit of his stepchildren, and I took it. I brought disgrace upon my family. I have dishonored an honorable profession."
Last February Kyle pleaded guilty to one felony count of misapporpriation and a lesser charge. He faced up to 10 years in jail and $5,000 in fines. State prosecutor Mathew Campbell said that over a period of more than a year Kyle had transferred $31,000 from the estate of Edward Clark into his own bank account. He only paid back $2,700 of that money and also charged the estate $5,000 for legal work.
Dressed in a blue suit, Kyle sat beside his attorney and long-time friend Leonard T. Kardy who argued that his client had made full restitution, already suffered enough and should not be imprisoned.
"He's learned his lesson, God only knows," Kardy said. "He's lost his family, lost his children, lost everything. He's been disbarred. His life is ruined."
Barrick imposed two three-year suspended sentences to be served consecutively, and ordered Kyle, a 1951 graduate of Harvard Law School, to do ten hours of volunteer work every week for the next three years.