AUGUSTA (AP) – A disbarred Waterville attorney was ordered Friday to spend one year in prison and pay $30,000 restitution for stealing clients’ money that was supposed to pay for medical bills.

Ronald L. Bishop was sentenced in Kennebec County Superior Court to four years in prison with all but one year suspended, followed by four years of probation, the Kennebec Journal reported.

Bishop pleaded guilty to charges of theft by misapplication of property, a felony, and unauthorized practice of law, a misdemeanor. The charges stemmed from incidents between 1998 and 2001 and involved seven different victims.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Colleran said that Bishop stole money from people he successfully represented in personal injury cases, and then avoided his clients when they tried to contact him about outstanding bills.

One victim, Grace Burwood, said one of her doctors has refused to give her further treatment until he is paid $20,250 in medical bills that she thought Bishop had paid. She said her credit is ruined and that Bishop’s sentence was shorter than the length of time she has suffered.

“Since 1998, my life has been upside down due to his misbehavior,” Burwood told the judge.

J. Scott Davis, bar counsel to the Board of Overseers of the Bar, told Warren that the Lawyers Fund For Client Protection has approved a payment of $15,000 toward Burwood’s bills and for funeral expenses in another of Bishop’s cases.

He said Bishop ran a successful solo law practice for 20 years until having problems with stress and alcoholism in 1998 that eventually cost him his family and his home.

Bishop’s attorney, John Alsop, said the clients’ money was used to pay for Bishop’s secretary, office expenses and barred in June 2002 by order of Maine Supreme Court Justice Donald G. Alexander after Bishop took money and began representing new clients while he was suspended.

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AP-ES-01-30-04 2132EST

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