GROSSE POINTE FARMS, Mich. (WXYZ) — The attorney accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Carhartt heiress was in Grosse Pointe Farms Municipal Court Wednesday.
David Sutherland is charged with three counts of embezzlement, one of a vulnerable adult, and one count of conducting a criminal enterprise. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
That vulnerable adult was Gretchen Carhartt Valade, philanthropist and granddaughter of Hamilton Carhartt, founder of the Carhartt workwear brand. Valade died December 30.
David Sutherland was her trust attorney.
Sutherland’s attorney, James Sullivan, said there’s no truth to the allegations.
“People that know him and know him well know that these charges are unfounded,” said Sullivan.
The attorney general’s office asked for a $250,000/10% bond. However, the judge, Charles Berschback, decided that wasn’t enough.
“I’m going to order a $250,000 surety bond. No 10% cash a surety,” said Berschback.
Anjali Prasad, criminal defense attorney and owner of Prasad Legal, explained what this means.
“A surety bond means the defendant has to put up the whole amount. So if it was $250,000, what normally happens is you can get your bond on a 10% so $25,000,” Prasad said.
Sullivan admitted he was not expecting such a high bond and spoke out in court.
“With all do respect, I don’t think it is proportionate to the circumstances before this court, the primary purpose of bond is just to secure someone’s appearance,” Sullivan said.
Sullivan explained even he didn’t have much information at the time.
“I haven’t even seen the facts that the charges are based upon. So hopefully they’ll provide that,” said Prasad
Anjali Prasad backed this up.
“You know they’re just charges so I don’t think anybody should jump the gun yet. There’s no guilty plea, we don’t know what the evidence is, they’re just charges,” Prasad said
She reacted to the $250,000 bond.
“I think that the judge was probably really responding to the vulnerability of the victim. And I go back to our aging population and how vulnerable they are,” said Prasad.
She does not believe the victim’s social status factored into the decision.
“I don’t know why her status as an heiress to Carhartt has any relevance. What has relevance is that she was an individual with means who put her trust in an attorney. And that attorney is now charged with abusing her trust and taking her millions,” said Prasad.