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Columbus, Georgia lawyer and civic leader Thomas N. Austin has been sentenced to five years in prison. Austin, 53, was a former assistant city attorney and an active chair of various local citizen planning and support groups. Austin stole $173,328.69 intended to pay off a client’s mortgage to pay off his personal bills, including country club expenses and his own mortgage. Arrested and disbarred in 1997 after his theft was discovered, Austin was indicted again this year when another lawyer notified the Georgia State Bar that he was still accepting clients. “It’s a sad, sad situation,” said former Columbus mayor Frank K. Martin, who represented Austin during his trial.

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