SAN ANTONIO – A San Antonio attorney has vowed he will appeal against sanctions of more than $200,000 imposed on him and his clients in a case involving an incapacitated millionaire, his apparent sham marriage and adoption of his former wife's adult children.
Phil Ross maintains there is no evidence he did anything wrong in his dealings with 81-year-old Charles Thrash, the former owner of an auto repair shop with an estate valued at more than $3 million.
But Judge Oscar Kazen of Bexar County Probate Court, before imposing more than $220,000 in sanctions, found that Ross misrepresented himself as Thrash's lawyer and helped to marry the millionaire to Laura Martinez and the adoption of her children. Both have since been reversed.
Thrash was mentally incapacitated at the time of the marriage, and both Ross and Martinez knew of a court order two months previously stating that he was incompetent, the court found.
The wedding was held in another country, Ross served as best man, and signed the marriage certificate, according to a report in the San Antonio Express News.
But a defiant Ross told the Southeast Texas Record that he "did not exploit Charlie Thrash and did nothing to cause him harm."
On the wedding to Martinez, the attorney said, "It was Charlie's choice."
Ross described the judge's opinion as "erroneous," including the order to cover the attorney fees of the court-ordered guardians.
The judge imposed various sanctions, including $187,500 on Ross, Laura Martinez and Brittany Martinez, to cover the attorney fees. He also ordered Ross to pay back $30,400 in attorney fees and a further punitive $5,000.
According to the San Antonio Express News, Martinez first met Thrash in 2012, some years before a court found that he was mentally incapacitated. A court investigator report earlier this year said that Thrash did not want to marry.
"The marriage caused no harm or injury," Ross said.