After months of incarceration, two business partners accused of bilking millions of dollars from their Erath County clients made an appearance in the 266th Judicial District Court Monday.
David Thomas Cheatham, 65, and Paul Anthony Lansford, 69, made the 9 a.m. docket call and appeared before Judge David Cleveland, who was appointed to hear the cases against the two men after Judge Donald Jones recused himself.
According to District Attorney Jason Cashon, Cheatham and Lansford waived the reading of their arraignments and also waived pretrial motions in the criminal cases against them.
Cheatham is being represented by local attorney Garry Lewellen and Lansford is being represented by Tim Evans of Fort Worth. Cashon said neither attorney appeared in court Monday.
The men, former business partners in Cheatham & Lansford, CPA, were each indicted on 19 felony counts in December for theft and misapplication of fiduciary property and were arrested the following day, Dec. 10. While an exact dollar amount has not been been released, Cashon said in December the men allegedly stole more than $3 million from multiple individuals, family trusts and non-profit organizations.
Meanwhile, Cleveland made a ruling in a separate civil case involving Cheatham and Lansford and a joint business venture - Chelam Properties, LLC.
According to Jim Elliot, of Coan & Elliot, PC, Cleveland ordered the sale of the accountants' former office building at 135 River North Blvd. in Stephenville.
Coan, attorney for the Marvin Browder Family Trust, said prior to their deaths, Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Browder loaned money to Cheatham and Lansford individually and Chelan Properties collectively to secure a deed on the office building.
"The trust acquired the lien (on the building) following their deaths," Elliot said.
Elliot said the note was in default and hadn't been paid since July 1, 2009. He also said the court approved the sale of the building by the Erath County Sheriff's Office.