By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- A Tulsa attorney accused of embezzling money from clients appeared in court on Monday.
Attorney Fred Schraeder and former attorney Bill Anton face 53 counts of embezzlement, fraud and forgery.
Monday's hearing was only for Schraeder and the first thing he did was fire his attorney and decide to represent himself.
When Bill Anton lost his law license in 2007, Fred Schraeder agreed to take over some of the cases since the two had been partners years ago and currently shared a suite of offices.
The Attorney General's office says Anton stole about a million dollars from clients and Schraeder stole $155,000.
James Jedry testified he hired Bill Anton to represent him in a motorcycle crash and was told Fred Schraeder would handle any court stuff.
Jedry said he didn't know his case had been settled or that a $60,000 check had been issued to him and Schraeder. Jedry said someone forged his name on the back of that check and he never received a dime.
Mark Tate testified he hired Anton for a personal injury case and was also told Schraeder would handle the court duties. He said he also didn't realize his case had been settled.
Tate said he did not receive a check that had been issued for $7,500, that someone had forged his name on the back of that check and he never received a dime.
Billy Conn testified he hired Anton for a disability case that was later settled for $56,000 after Schraeder went to court for him.
He said he didn't know a check had been issued to him and Schraeder and that someone had forged his name on the back of that check and it was later deposited into Schraeder's account. Conn says he received about $2,600.
The attorney general's offices says Anton and Schraeder were working together to take money that was meant for clients.
Schraeder made it clear through his questioning of witnesses that he blames any forgery and theft on Bill Anton and believes Anton forged Schraeder's signature and advertised falsely for clients under Schraeder's name.
The government has six more witnesses to call so the case will likely finish Tuesday, when a judge will decide if there's enough evidence against Schraeder to order him to stand trial.
Prosecutors say Anton had to give up his law license in 2007, but kept taking clients and cases and needed Schraeder, who still has a law license, to work those cases.
Anton waived his right to Monday's preliminary hearing.