Legal Fees Drain Trust Fund For Fallen Officer’s Children
(Memphis) The community poured out its support to four little girls who lost their mother in the line of duty.
Officer Martoiya Lang was the first female Memphis Police Officer killed on the job.
The community pulled together to see that her daughters be taken care of after her death.
However, large portions of the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised to help the girls is going somewhere else.
When Officer Lang was killed serving a warrant to keep city streets clean of drugs, several organizations set out to see her four girls, Taylour, Dariyn, Naia and Xaria, would be taken care of financially despite their tragic loss.
Death benefits totaled about $500,000 for the officer, and the Memphis Police Association raised another $300,000.
Add in other benefits like social security, there should be at least a million dollars to help raise the girls.
However, just over a year since the officer’s death, there are concerns about where that money is going.
“The citizens I’m quite sure and everybody else that rose to the occasion would have liked for every penny to have gone to the welfare of the children as opposed to attorneys,” said Officer Mike Williams, Memphis Police Association.
Each of the four Lang children has a separate account set up at Shelby County Probate Court.
The judge assigned one attorney, a guardian ad litem, to see that they’re taken care of in a good manner.
However, fees and other court costs are eating away at money intended for the children.
“The way the case has unfolded clearly has added to the cost of the situation,” said Paul Boyd, Probate Court Clerk.
The case unfolded with the girl’s father and maternal grandmother vying for custody.
That battle costs the girls money.
Court records show the guardian ad litem hired to research what’s best for them, logged dozens of phone calls and trips to various houses within the city at a rate of $250 to $350 an hour.
The On Your Side Investigators uncovered fees paid to the guardian ad litem in the first six months cost $50,000, and all of it came out of the girls’ trust funds.
“Of course, when you’ve got to go to court every week, every month, those attorney fees go up,” said Boyd.
In a twist, the girls’ maternal grandfather, who never asked for it, got custody.
However, the case is not over.
The father wants to appeal, which concerns the money manager over the estate, Judy Self.
In court documents, Self said she was, ‘greatly concerned about the attorneys
and guardian fees and expenses that are anticipated to be paid from the minors’ funds. The impact of the appeal process is another unknown factor.’
Boyd said, “Child has to eat, child has to be clothed, child has to have a roof over her head. So, you have to provide for the here and now but you also have to look for the future to make sure when that child turns 18, 21, 25, whatever has been determined that there is something there for that child’s future.”
The money may run out quicker for some of Lang’s daughters than others.
The oldest daughter is named as the main beneficiary on all of he mother’s insurance policies.
The youngest, just 2 years old at the time of Officer Lang’s murder, wasn’t even included.
Boyd said, “No one is guaranteed tomorrow. Get a will. Get a plan and know when you leave this earth there is a plan for your children, a plan for your loved ones. Know where the money is going to go.”
Right now, a lot of people are worried the money raised for these four children will be gone when they need it most.
The Lang custody case is back in court in two weeks.
Darius Lang was recently arrested for domestic violence, now some family members are trying to cut off his once a week supervised visits with his three daughters.
The father of the youngest child has separate visits with her.