Gene Cauley’s Death Ruled Suicide
News about Gene Cauley Little Rock Ar.
S. Gene Cauley, once a high-profile class-action lawyer before pleading guilty to stealing millions from a client trust account, was found dead in his lakeside home near Hot Springs on Friday morning, and Garland County Sheriff Mike McCormick said the death has been ruled a suicide.
Coroner Stuart Smedley confirmed to Arkansas Business on Monday morning that Cauley, 48, was pronounced dead at 11:58 a.m. on Friday. The death appeared to be caused by ligature strangulation, Smedley said.
The body has been released to Davis-Smith Funeral Home in Hot Springs.
Arkansas Business had been attempting to get confirmation from Garland County authorities since Friday afternoon. Late Monday morning, McCormick released a statement saying that deputies from his office were called to Cauley’s residence on Friday morning for a “welfare check,” and met there with an unidentified family about 11 a.m. Cauley “was located inside and apparently died from self-inflicted means.”
Cauley was still on supervised release following completion of his federal prison sentence in April.
The house in which Cauley died is listed for sale for $589,000. He paid $698,000 for the house in the Rockwell community on Lake Hamilton in May 2007 and transferred ownership to an irrevocable trust on March 30, 2009, days before his law partners in Little Rock informed a federal judge in New York that $9.3 million was missing from an account that Cauley alone controlled. The account originally contained more than $65 million, the settlement of a class-action case.
After pleading guilty to wire fraud and criminal contempt of court, Cauley was sentenced to 86 months in federal prison. On Jan. 18, 2010, a week before he reported to federal prison, Cauley married Kathleen Rooney. After he was allowed to return to Hot Springs on home confinement last year to complete the final months of his sentence, the couple “separated” on Nov. 12. But court records indicate both continued to live in the house until after Cauley filed for divorce on Jan. 29.
The divorce was granted on April 15. The settlement indicated that Rooney had been trustee and beneficiary of a life insurance trust, but relinquished those positions in March.
The public record does not indicate exactly how much Cauley had paid of the $8.8 million in restitution he still owed at the time of his sentencing in 2009. After an initial $500,000 was paid before he was sentenced, occasional small payments have been entered on the court record, including $174.41 on May 3 of this year.
Former Little Rock lawyer Steven Eugene Cauley, who earlier this year completed an 86-month federal prison sentence, was found dead Friday in his home in Hot Springs. He was 48.
Garland County Coroner Stuart Smedley said a ruling on the death was still pending and he could not release details. He said Cauley was pronounced dead in his home on Windy Point on Lake Hamilton shortly before noon. I’m awaiting further from the sheriff’s office. Smedley added to Arkansas Business that “ligature strangulation” appeared to be the cause of what sources had originally reported as a self-inflicted death.
UPDATE: A statement from the sheriff’s office:
The Garland County Sheriff Office responded to 119 Windy Pt. on 08-12-16 reference a welfare check.
Deputies met with a family member at approximately 1100 hrs. and made entry into the house.
Steven Couley 48 was located inside and apparently died from self-inflicted means. The Garland County Sheriff Office and Coroner’s Office jointly investigated the incident and the death has been ruled a suicide.
Carley’s sentence was completed April 20. He had spent the last several months of the sentence, since at least November 2015, on home detention at his house on Lake Hamilton outside the Hot Springs city limits. He was divorced from his second wife April 15. A property settlement in that case indicates he still retained assets, or interest in assets, including the lake home, a woman’s Rolex watch, an IRA and a life insurance trust.
He was sentenced in 2009 for stealing $9.3 million from a client trust account. Restitution of that amount was among several legal loose ends from the end of what had been a high-profile practice in class action securities litigation. Arkansas Business reported earlier this year that he’d made little of the required restitution.
A probation report had said Cauley hoped to use his contacts in real estate, finance and law for future employment. He surrendered his law license in 2009. When he pleaded guilty to stealing client money, he told a federal judge in New York that he had suffered a “severe depressive episode,” but he said he didn’t offer that as an excuse for his action