For nearly four years, McDonough, Ga., attorney Steven H. Ballard capitalized on his credibility as a real estate and business law attorney to bilk friends and clients of more than $2 million in what federal prosecutors say was a Ponzi scheme in which Ballard siphoned more than $200,000 for his personal use.

But the fraud scheme, to which Ballard pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court on Thursday, was only one symptom of his failure as a lawyer.

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