Infamous Sweetwater Attorney Disbarred 3 Years After Lying to a Grand Jury
SAN ANGELO, TX – A Sweetwater attorney who was an unindicted co-conspirator with John Young and Ray Zapata in the forgery, theft and money laundering trial over the forged will of John Sullivan in 2017 has been disbarred by the State Bar of Texas.
According to court documents, Christianson O. (Chris) Hartman appeared before a District 16 grievance committee on Feb. 3, 2020.
In a list of findings of fact, the evidentiary panel included the following findings of fact concerning Hartman as the respondent:
- Respondent knowingly made a false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal.
- Respondent committed a serious crime or criminal act.
- Respondent engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
- Respondent knowingly failed to disclose a fact to a tribunal when disclosure was necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act.
As we reported during John Young's trial in Oct. 2017, Hartman admitted on the stand that he lied to a grand jury. “I did.” Sweetwater attorney Chris Hartman testified in the John Young theft, forgery and money laundering trial that he misled the first Grand Jury and deceived Texas Ranger Nick Hanna in his recorded interview by not telling them about a $65,312.50 check he wrote to Ray Zapata. “I knew I perjured myself before the first grand jury.”
Hartman was given immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony in that trial.
Prosecuting attorney Shane Attaway said, “You kept the money and didn’t say anything about getting the $65,312.50 back.” Hartman had testified that he received a check from John Young for $167,500 in legal fees for work on the Sullivan probate and estate.
Hartman then wrote a check for $65,312.50 and left it blank. Ray Zapata picked up the check and delivered it to Dallas attorney Juan Marquez who deposited it into an Interest On Trust Lawyers Account (IOLTA) which Marquez then gave to Zapata.
Earlier testimony said Zapata wrote checks out of the IOLTA account for approximately $60,000.
The evidentiary panel ordered Hartman to pay court costs and attorney fees in the amount of $15,100 in addition to surrendering his law license.
Hartman was also ordered to immediately notify his clients in writing of his disbarment and to return files and funds to his clients.
He was additionally ordered to pay another $10,000 if he was going to appeal the judgment.
Young was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Reports indicate Young is currently out of prison.
Ray Zapata was found guilty by a Tom Green County jury in June 2017. He was sentenced to six months in prison.
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