BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (CBS4)- Royal ‘Scoop’ Daniel, the Breckenridge lawyer who vanished in 2007, was sentenced to 12 years in prison Thursday. Several of his victims were in court for the sentencing.
Daniel, 66, had previously reached a plea deal with prosecutors. He told the judge he didn’t know how to show how sorry he was.
“I don’t know how to be more remorseful. I didn’t think of myself as a thief,” said Daniel.
He spoke for nearly an hour, detailing his suicidal thoughts, life in Mexico and returning to make right those he had wronged.
In exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of felony theft, Daniel was sentenced Thursday afternoon to 12 years in prison by a judge at the Summit County Courthouse in Breckenridge. Under the agreement, Daniel was facing a maximum 16 years behind bars.
A dozen victims were in court to urge the judge that prison was the only answer for the once well-respected attorney.
“I want the right thing for us as victims to at least feel we have come out with something. We may never see our money but at least let us know that he can never do this to another human being,” said one victim.
Many said this wasn’t about just losing money but about the impact it had on their lives.
“I was in six months of therapy and had to take anti-depressants,” said Daniel victim Craig Campbell.
Campbell lost about $175,000 when Daniel disappeared.
Dr. Mark Newkirk said his total financial loss was upwards of $500,000.
“This affected our marriage greatly. We were separated for six months and almost got divorced thanks to this,” said Newkirk.
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 were dropped in the plea deal.
Daniel’s defense attorneys urged the judge to sentence him to probation so he could begin repaying the nearly $500,000 he stole from clients.
The judge decided that a restitution payment totaling $462,000 would be nearly impossible to pay back.
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.