The visiting judge ordered a presentence report.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Former lawyer Richard Goldberg has someone looking out for his best interests.
Goldberg, 59, of Liberty, pleaded guilty Monday to 29 state charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, theft and forgery at a hearing before Visiting Judge Stephen Yarbrough in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Yarbrough of Lucas County accepted Goldberg's plea, but delayed sentencing pending completion of a presentence report to be prepared by the Ohio Adult Parole Authority's Youngstown office.
Such reports can take anywhere from four to eight weeks to complete.
Timothy Franken, an assistant county prosecutor who worked with Jay Macejko in handling the plea agreement for the state, said Goldberg received an anonymous monetary gift of more than $600,000 that will be used to pay five families that he bilked out of thousands of dollars. The money will be disbursed from Goldberg's lawyer's account, he added.
Goldberg told the court, "I deeply regret entering into such conduct," admitting he improperly took money from clients by forging their names at his former offices in Youngstown and Canfield. He termed his actions as despicable.
He declined to speak with reporters after the court proceeding ended. He remains free on bond pending his sentencing.
Macejko said the state would make no recommendation on sentencing, but one of the plea provisions was that Goldberg would make full restitution to the five families.
Macejko said he personally spoke with representatives for all the families, and they agreed to the plea.
The amounts range from $21,662 for one family to a high of $405,545 for another. The total amount to be paid out at sentencing is $636,705.67.
Franken said two of the families were involved in the federal case against Goldberg, where he also pleaded guilty and served time, and three other families previously were not disclosed to federal prosecutors by Goldberg.
Macejko added that several witnesses were lined up to testify against Goldberg had the trial gone forward.
Franken said this is essentially a white-collar crime "and people normally see little jail time" in such cases, adding that most people prefer to get their money.
Atty. Martin Yavorcik, a Goldberg lawyer, declined to say who gave Goldberg the money and to further discuss the matter until after sentencing.
Judge Yarbrough said he wanted to make sure the victims were fully compensated, and added that Goldberg already has done substantial federal prison time.
The judge could place Goldberg on probation, but also could sentence him to a maximum of 54 to 75 years in prison.
He added if probation would be granted, the terms can be harsh and rigid.
The state charges to which Goldberg pleaded guilty are similar to the federal charges he pleaded guilty to in 1999. He served 51 months in federal prison and was released in October 2003.
Once released, Goldberg was transferred to the county jail to serve 21 months imposed by Judge Timothy J. Maloney of county probate court. The judge concluded that Goldberg concealed $1.2 million that should have been paid to four clients.
In December, Goldberg's lawyers won his release from jail, based on a federal magistrate's recommendation to U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus that he vacate Goldberg's county jail sentence imposed by Judge Maloney.
Yavorcik has said the 21 months Judge Maloney imposed in May 2000 on misdemeanor contempt convictions should have been served concurrently with Goldberg's federal time.
Judge Economus has not yet ruled on the magistrate's recommendation. Goldberg also has filed for bankruptcy, and that matter has yet to be resolved.