Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Dock Of Bay City

A Michigan attorney has been disbarred for criminal convictions.

 Respondent was convicted by a jury of embezzlement, forgery, uttering and publishing. Respondent was further convicted, after pleading no contest, of two counts of misdemeanor larceny, and pleading guilty to two counts of drunk driving.

Michigan Live reported

A jury decided a Bay City attorney did in fact embezzle a five-figure sum from a client.Jurors in the trial of Kevin J. Rieman found him guilty of single counts of embezzlement by an agent or trust more than $20,000, uttering and publishing and forgery. All of the charges are felonies.

The nine-woman, three-man jury began deliberating at about 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31. The jury forewoman delivered the verdicts at 4:37 p.m.

A seated Rieman remained stoic as the verdicts were read aloud.

Midland County Circuit Judge Michael J. Beale, who presided over the trial as Bay County's judges recused themselves, allowed Rieman to remain free on bond pending sentencing. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

Rieman remains charged with two more counts each of forgery, uttering and publishing and embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000, as well as one count of false pretenses between $1,000 and $20,000. Those charges are divided between two additional cases, with each file related to another client.

Rieman's trial began Monday, Jan. 23. Throughout it, Bay County Assistant Prosecutor Jeffrey Stroud argued Troy A. Dybas hired Rieman several years ago to represent him in litigation stemming from a motorcycle crash. The case proceeded to trial, with a jury finding State Farm Mutual Insurance Co. owed Dybas money. Rieman was to receive 33 percent of the final sum.

However, Stroud argued Rieman signed Dybas' name on a 2011 check for $49,942 and kept the money. Rieman, who represented himself and testified Monday, Jan. 30, acknowledged he had signed Dybas' name and put the money in his personal account, but said he did so with Dybas' consent.

In the corner of a typed contract, Rieman had handwritten that he would be loaned the sum by Dybas for five years, and that the amount would accrue 5 percent interest. Dybas could have withdrawn the money from Rieman with a written notice of 30 days, Rieman testified.

Questioned by Stroud, Rieman said he had slid the document across a desk to Dybas, but did not verbally explain the loan deal to him.

"You spent it, correct?" Stroud asked.

"I used that money, yes," Rieman said.

Rieman also said he had recently written a check to Dybas for the $49,942 sum, with the only expectation being that Dybas would testify honestly.

Before Stroud questioned him, Rieman spent several hours speaking from the witness stand, saying the cases against him resulted from misunderstandings and from a falling out with former law partner Matthew L. Reyes.

"It's my belief and impression that all of these investigations are a result of very, very bad business and personal relationship that I have with Matt Reyes," he said.

Rieman was first arraigned on criminal charges in December 2014. In connection with those charges, court records indicate prosecutors believe Rieman on April 17, 2014, cashed a check for $8,000 that was due a client, Erica Robinson. Rieman then kept the funds, prosecutors allege.

At the time, Rieman was part of Rieman & Reyes, a law firm at 817 Washington Ave. in downtown Bay City. He no longer is part of the firm, which is now known as Reyes & Bauer.

Rieman also was president of the Bay County Bar Association at the time, although he resigned the day of his arraignment.

In April 2015, Rieman was arraigned on the additional charges stemming from his alleged conduct with Dybas and fellow client Sue Damm.

Damm testified during a June 2015 preliminary examination that she hired Rieman to represent her son in litigation stemming from a motorcycle crash that left him disabled. Damm and her ex-husband signed a retainer agreement on their son's behalf, granting Rieman 33 percent of whatever sum their son received, she said.

The case resulted in a monetary settlement owed to the Damms in early 2009, she testified.

During that hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Stroud showed Damm copies of a check for $5,394.75 issued to her and bearing what appeared to be her signature. Damm, however, said the signature was fraudulent and she never received money from the settlement.

Damm added that in June 2009, Rieman demanded she pay him $1,100 in cash, without saying why. Damm borrowed the amount from a friend and gave it to Rieman, she testified.

Dybas also testified against Rieman during the preliminary exam.

"He told me he was having a very rough year, that his wife was divorcing him, that his business was not doing well, and at that time he'd call State Farm to see if they'd settle for less money," Dybas testified during the preliminary hearing.

An affidavit signed by police and contained in court records says the check was deposited into Rieman's personal bank account May 5, 2011.

(Mike Frisch)

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