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Stranger Gives $983 So Defendant Can Avoid Felony Charge

A generous stranger gave a defendant in a Portland courtroom nearly a thousand dollars last week so the man wouldn't be charged with a felony. Castor Conley was busted for buying and selling a stolen car that was part of a greater criminal operation, his lawyer, Lawrence Taylor, told NBC News.

"My client was minimally involved in what was otherwise a big case," Taylor said, but the prosecutor decided not to charge Conley with a felony if he could repay the original owner of the car its $983 value. Conley was given five weeks to come up with the money, but he was unable to. Taylor was discussing his client's predicament with someone else when a civil attorney overheard.

The civil attorney, Colin Murphy, "out of nowhere, took me aside and made the offer that he’d be willing to help out," Taylor said. He said he would give Conley the $983, as long as the Bar Association permitted the gesture, since lawyers can't give funds to their clients. But "a lawyer who isn't involved in the case is no different than anyone else," and Murphy was allowed to supply Conley with his redemption cash. "I’ve never seen anything like it — not even close," said Taylor, who has been practicing law for 23 years.

Conley is a husband and father of a 17-month-old, with one prior misdemeanor, and felony charge could have resulted in Conley losing his job, Taylor said.

— Elisha Fieldstadt