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Man arrested in divorce attorney's death owed him nearly $30,000

Gwinnett County court records detail divorce proceedings and tens of thousands of dollars Allen Tayeh was ordered to pay shortly before attorney Doug Lewis' death.

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. — Court documents detail the possible motive behind the shooting death of a Lawrenceville attorney and the arson of his office by a client's ex-husband. 

Allen Tayeh, 65, is facing charges of murder and first-degree arson regarding the death of Doug Lewis and for allegedly burning his law offices. And documents from the court now show that reason could have been money-related.

A woman came to Lawrenceville attorney Doug Lewis seeking a divorce from her now ex-husband Tayeh. The attorney decided to represent her case, and she filed for divorce in January 2021. 

The verdict was reached in August to dissolve the marriage and that Tayeh would have to give his ex-wife 50% of his retirement benefits, pay $138,000 within 90 days for her share of equity in their Dacula home and send her $500 monthly alimony payments. 

One more thing was added in October; a judge ordered that Tayeh pay his ex-wife's legal fees from the divorce - $28,483.23 within 30 days. He apparently never paid those fees as directed by the judge, according to court documents filed by Lewis.

Court filings from December 1 show that Lewis then made a case before the court to hold Tayeh in contempt. The attorney wrote: 

"The payment for attorney’s fees was due to be received by Plaintiff’s counsel on or before November 30, 2022. Defendant failed to make the payment for attorney’s fees as ordered by the court. Defendant is in willful contempt of the Court’s Order dated October 31, 2022."

A hearing was set for December 14 to discuss the matter, but given Lewis' death, the meeting is now listed as canceled. 

Tayeh is now in the  Gwinnett County Jail, held without bond, facing charges of murder and first-degree arson. 

About the victim and case

Credit: Douglas W. Lewis, Attorney at Law

Doug Lewis was described by a close friend as a family who rarely let a day pass without telling his wife and kids he was proud of them. His friend and former partner, Jesse Kent, also writes that Lewis was " the standard that all lawyers - including me - aspired to be." He said that his absence  in the field would be felt, and it would "never be the same without him.” 

Lewis was in law practice for 30 years. His law offices which are now severely damaged by flames sat in an old, converted house along Stone Mountain Street in Lawrenceville. 

“It’s pretty brazen. It’s kind of out of the blue," Lawrenceville Police Lt. Jake Parker said on Thursday when they found Lewis' body within the fire. 

The 65-year-old man is being charged with murder and first-degree arson. Lawrenceville police, Gwinnett County fire detectives and the medical examiner are still investigating. So far, police said the suspect had not made any statements.

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