Woman Gets Jail Time For Lying to Probate Court

A woman who withheld part of her siblings’ shares of a settlement was sentenced to jail today for lying in court about the funds, with her husband receiving a shorter jail term for receiving and concealing money that he knew to be stolen, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.

DELL LEATHERS-BUFORD (D.O.B. 9/29/69) and KEVIN BUFORD (D.O.B. 8/21/61), both of Brockton, were convicted of all charges Monday after a three-day jury trial in Suffolk Superior Court. Leathers-Buford had been indicted on two counts each of larceny over $250, embezzlement by a fiduciary, and perjury, while her husband had been charged with receiving stolen property over $250.

At a sentencing hearing today, Judge Patrick Brady sentenced Leathers-Buford to 18 months in a house of correction for lying twice under oath in the Suffolk County Probate Court and five years of probation upon her release for withholding from her four siblings about $300,000 out of a settlement that was legally required to be shared equally among them. The settlement came from a civil suit arising out of their mother’s 2006 death.

Leathers-Buford must also pay restitution to her sister and brothers for the amount she withheld from them; that amount will be determined at a hearing on a later date.

Brady sentenced her husband, Buford, to 18 months in a house of correction, ordering him to serve six months of that term and suspending the remainder for five years. If Buford remains out of trouble during that time, he will not have to serve out the remainder of the term.

Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Goldberger proved at trial that Leathers-Buford was appointed the administratrix of her mother’s estate after her mother’s 2006 death. In 2008, Leathers-Buford received a check for $553,579.84 settling a wrongful death suit. That settlement was required to be distributed equally among herself and her four siblings.

Instead, Goldberger demonstrated, Leathers-Buford deposited the check in a bank account she shared with Buford, gave her siblings and father $60,000 each, and used the remainder – $313,579.84 – for her own purposes. She also received a second check for $16,160.50 which she kept entirely for herself.

In the months that followed, Leathers-Buford moved and manipulated the withheld portion of the money across bank and retirement accounts. Members of her family became suspicious when she refused to disclose the total sum of the settlement, leading to her removal as administratrix of their mother’s estate. A new administrator was appointed, and that administrator later provided records and documents to Conley’s office, which initiated a criminal investigation with Boston Police.

Leathers-Buford lied under oath about what she had done with the money, stating that her daughter had established a $200,000 trust for her granddaughter at an unknown financial institution when in fact Leathers-Buford knew exactly where the funds were, having set up a series of accounts in her and her husband’s names at a wealth management company. She also filed a false account with the court, signed under the pains and penalties of perjury, representing that she had kept $50,000 of the settlement as reimbursement for the cost of her mother’s funeral. In fact, the total documented funeral expenses were under $12,000, much of which was paid for by other family members.

For his part, Buford received and concealed the stolen funds, which he distributed across various accounts. Buford also converted over $50,000 of the settlement funds to cash.

Michael Coffey was the DA’s assigned victim-witness advocate. Leathers-Buford was represented by attorneys Leonard Milligan and Jin-Ho King. Buford was represented by attorney Eric Tennen.