BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4)– CBS4 has learned that Royal ‘Scoop’ Daniel, the Breckenridge lawyer who vanished in 2007, has reached a plea deal with prosecutors and will likely plead guilty at a court hearing next week.
“We’re still trying to firm things up but that’s the way it’s looking right now,” said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
Daniel, 66, was scheduled for a preliminary hearing February 28, but CBS4 confirmed Daniel is planning to plead guilty to two counts of felony theft. Court records show Daniel has been charged with eight counts of felony theft over $15,000 and five counts of commercial bribery. Those additional charges would be dropped in the plea deal.
“Ultimately we felt with this plea bargain that justice would be served without going to trial,” said Hurlbert.
He said prosecutors have not agreed to any kind of sentencing recommendation for Daniel. Under the pending agreement, Hurlbert said Daniel would face a maximum of 16 years in jail.
Calls to Daniels’ attorney at his office and home were not immediately returned.
Daniel mysteriously disappeared from Breckenridge on April 27, 2007. Law enforcement authorities believe he embezzled more than $500,000 of clients’ money that had been intended for real estate transactions.
He moved to Acapulco, Mexico and was living there until last December. Authorities arrested Daniel as he crossed the border from Mexico back into the United States.
Following his capture, Daniel told police investigators he was not aware he was a wanted man.
The day he disappeared, a call was made from Daniel’s cell phone to 911 but the caller hung up. An arrest warrant was issued for the attorney within a week after his disappearance. During the four and a half years Daniel was gone, police say friends and family of the popular attorney never reported any contact with Daniel. He is currently being held in the Summit County Jail.
Prosecutor Hurlbert said all eight of Daniel’s former clients are in agreement with the plea bargain. The Fifth judicial district prosecutor said a judge will likely sentence Daniel in about six weeks.
– Written by Brian Maass for CBSDenver.com