Local News

Lake Placid attorney to stand trial

SEBRING - John Sanders Haile, who was charged in 2012 with selling the house of a deceased widow and then diverting more than $131,000 to his own accounts, has been ordered to stand trial in February.

After listening in June to the testimony of two psychologists, Circuit Court Judge Dick Prince determined that Haile, a CPA who also practiced law in Lake Placid, was incompetent to assist in his own defense. He committed Haile and ordered an evaluation in Bartow.

Those who only knew Haile by his professional reputation were shocked that he was accused on April 26, 2012, of diverting more than $131,000 in funds to his own Morgan Stanley Smith Barney account. Ninety-six percent of that money was supposed to go to Nancy Haberkamp's heir, Constance Lee Collins of Hampshire, Ill., and 4 percent to Haile's daughter, Jenifer Haile.

A state attorney investigator tracked Haile's money trail: trips to the Bahamas and Georgia, payments for a boat slip to the Lauderdale Marina, a car payment, liquor and food purchases, and a $45,000 business loan to himself. "Haile issued himself additional attorney fees from the trust in the amount of $5,352." Over the next three months, Haile issued himself additional attorney fees and a final check for $29,525.

Haile finally bonded out of jail on Feb. 5, 2013, but a month later, he was rearrested for writing worthless checks to two local businesses from the Morgan Stanley account that Haile allegedly knew had been closed since 2010. Subsequent charges included 20 counts of grand theft, scheming to defraud, uttering a forged instrument and fraudulent use of personal identification information. He was returned to jail.

The last time he was arrested, Dr. William Kremper said, Haile pushed the officer away, called EMS and then refused to ride in the ambulance.

Kremper described how Haile - certain that he was right and the prescribing doctors were absolutely wrong - decided which medications he would take and which he would not. Haile would verbosely argue with his jail nurses, manically claiming that medication was being forced on him and falsely stating that medications were causing bleeding. In truth, Kremper testified, Haile was excessively picking his nose.

Haile told jailers he had a broken arm, a broken ankle and internal bleeding, but examinations proved that he was malingering - fabricating or exaggerating mental or physical disorders for gain or sympathy.

Those who know Haile understand that his sanity didn't suddenly unravel in April 2012, when an arrest warrant was signed. On July 10, 2008, Audrey L. Haile was granted a divorce. On March 2, 2012, Haile, then 55, was sentenced to 10 days in jail for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Three DUI arrests proved Haile is an alcohol abuser, Hartig suggested, and that he smoked marijuana as well. Hartig and Kremper independently agreed that Haile is bipolar and a danger to himself.

"This has been going on for a few decades," Dr. Tracy Hartig agreed with Haile's attorney, John Kromholtz, who was hired by Haile's family to help convince the state that Haile needed psychiatric help. Haile's first psychological problems showed up in law school, Kremper testified by telephone, without elaborating.

When Haile appeared in court Nov. 21 for a pretrial conference, Judge Dennis Maloney ordered that trial status be determined on Feb. 5, and set jury selection on Feb. 10 for two of the charges, grand theft and money laundering. Haile, who is back in Highlands County Jail, is also to appear Feb. 5 on 28 other theft and bad check charges. A four-day trial has been scheduled.