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Local attorney acquitted after one-day bench trail
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An attorney accused of hacking into the private bank account of her husband’s ex-wife has been acquitted on all charges.
The attorney, local resident Christina Stanford, was found not guilty by Judge Paul Summers on the Class D felony of identity theft. The bench trial, in which the judge serves as judge and jury, lasted a day and featured testimony from the alleged victim, Jamie Stanford, the defendant, and three employees from Ascend Credit Union where the hacking allegedly took place.
In bringing the indictments, Manchester police investigator Billy Butler said the defendant posed as her husband’s ex-wife, Jamie Stanford, to get a look inside an account jointly held between her husband, Chris Stanford, and his ex-wife.
However, Christina Stanford said the whole thing was a case of animosity held toward her by the ex-wife, noting Jamie Stanford allegedly tried to get her indicted in Putnam and Warren counties but was unsuccessful before getting the case prosecuted in Coffee County. Christina and Chris Stanford operate their law practice in Coffee County.
Christina Stanford told the Standard the incident happened in 2012 and it involved her simply trying to pay off the balance on a car that was being paid for from the joint account. She says she never broke the law and the verdict bears that out.
“I was charged two years after paying off the note,” Stanford said of the indictment that came in October 2014 for an alleged incident in 2012.
Stanford, who is an attorney in good standing and has been married to Chris Stanford since 2012, says she never saw it coming.
“I was in shock,” Stanford said of her charges and the publicity that followed. “My face even appeared on the 6 p.m. news in Nashville.”
Stanford said her clients were understanding during the legal proceedings and the incident has brought her closer to her family and has left her with an even better appreciation of the legal process. She says she and her husband hope to open an office in McMinnville in the not too distant future since a large part of her practice is in Warren County courts already.