Saturday, April 9, 2005

Stealing From a Client = 41-Month Sentence

The basic premise of the lawyer-client relationship is that the lawyer acts as the fiduciary of the client, responsible for protecting the client's interests.  When that relationship goes awry and the lawyer steals from the client, it is one of the worst white collar crimes.  In United States v. Della Rose, the Seventh Circuit upheld the conviction of Steven Della Rose for stealing the $64,000 settlement that his client received from a workers comp claim.  The client was no angel, having been fired from a number of previous jobs, struggling with drug and alcohol addictions, and losing his house and car.  Della Rose's coconspirator, who actually cashed the check and took the $64,000 in $100 dollar bills -- receiving $50 from Della Rose for his "parking expense" -- was described by the court as "somewhat of a shady character," i.e. as unseemly as they come.  In an opinion that goes into excruciating detail (approximately 10 pages of facts in the .pdf version of the opinion, available here), Della Rose engaged in an elaborate scheme that included obtaining a false ID from a compliant clerk at the Illinois Secretary of State's office -- no paragon of virtue if the indictment of former Governor Ryan is true -- who Della Rose used for his "DUI clients."  Della Rose received a 41-month term of imprisonment, and gets another chance at the sentencing because of a remand to the district court to reconsider the sentence in light of Booker.  He may get more time, not less. (ph)

Judicial Opinions, Legal Ethics | Permalink

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