All Sections

Home | Crime

Former Stratham attorney shot, killed by officers in Florida

New Hampshire Union Leader

February 07. 2018 11:10PM


A 59-year-old former attorney from Stratham wanted in New Hampshire on charges of sexual assault of a minor was shot and killed Tuesday night by county and federal authorities in Florida, according to the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office.

James Benny Hobbs fled the Granite State after learning an arrest warrant had been issued for him on Jan. 17, according to police.

Hobbs was wanted on two arrest warrants. The first was a warrant issued by Amherst police alleging he committed aggravated felonious sexual assault on a child under the age of 15.

He was also wanted on a parole warrant for an underlying offense of fraud perpetrated against his clients while he was a practicing attorney.

An extensive investigation was conducted by members of the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, along with detectives from Amherst and Stratham.

The investigation followed leads down the East Coast of the United States and ended Tuesday evening at the Howard Johnson’s motel off State Road 16 and I-95 in St. Augustine, Fla.

Hobbs was shot and killed around 6 p.m. at a Howard Johnson’s near County Road 208 in St. John’s County, Fla., after a U.S. Marshal’s Service Fugitive Task Force tracked him there, according to a release from the county sheriff’s office.

Deputy marshals, accompanied by sheriff’s deputies, observed a vehicle matching a description of Hobbs’ Mercedes-Benz C280 in the hotel parking lot and began searching the area for him.

According to St. John’s Sheriff’s Office spokesman Kevin Kelshaw, task force members went to Hobbs’ first-floor room and asked him to come out.

“The sole occupant of the room, identified as Hobbs, exited the room,” said Kelshaw. “After being told to surrender himself to law enforcement, Hobbs refused to comply over a period of time and made several sudden moves causing three law enforcement officers to fire their weapons. Life-saving efforts were unsuccessful and he was pronounced deceased at the scene.”

Of the three law enforcement members who discharged their weapons, two are part of the U.S. Marshal Task Force, while the third is a member of the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Jeffrey White, supervisory deputy U.S. marshal for the District of New Hampshire prohibits his agency from releasing the identity of taskforce members working in an undercover capacity.

The Florida officer involved in the shooting has been identified as Deputy Mohammad Toubaili, who has been employed with the St. John’s County Sheriff’s Office since May of 2014.

According to Kelshaw, this is the first time Toubaili has been involved in an officer-involved shooting.

No weapon was found on Hobbs, whose alias was “The Whip,” according a Marshal’s Service bulletin. No law enforcement officers were injured in the incident, the sheriff’s office said.

Hobbs, who was on parole, was a former attorney charged with defrauding several clients in 2005, according to the Marshal’s Service.

In 2006 Hobbs admitted he stole more than $1 million from several clients, about half of it from the estate of a Nashua woman. He was sentenced to a term of 10 to 20 years in prison.

Hobbs, then a resident of Mont Vernon, was indicted by a grand jury in 2006 on eight charges — seven counts of theft by misapplication of property and one count of forgery.

In 2005, Hobbs was charged with stealing about $500,000 from one client, Blanche Krah, between August 2004 and September 2005, according to court documents.

Krah’s son, Jeffrey Krah, sued Hobbs on behalf of his late mother in 2005 after discovering an account that Hobbs was supposed to create for the estate never existed, according to court documents. Hobbs was to create two checking accounts, with $400,000 in one account and the remaining funds in the other.

In total, Hobbs bilked close to $1.25 million from his clients, authorities allege. Before his arrest in 2005, Hobbs had been the coach of the mock trial team at Souhegan High School in Amherst.

Crime Stratham

More Headlines