Skip to comments.14 years for lawyer who robbed clients - Stole from poor, disabled he represented to live in the lap
Posted on 04/20/2005 2:58:53 PM PDT by SmithL
A once-prominent San Francisco lawyer convicted of stealing from his poor and sickly clients to support his luxurious lifestyle was sentenced Tuesday to more than 14 years in prison, after a federal judge upbraided him for disgracing the legal profession.
Nikolai Tehin "looked his victims in the eye," U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker said. "Those people relied upon his skills, his reputation and, most of all, his integrity. And Mr. Tehin took gross advantage of that trust. He abused that trust in the most flagrant and in the most reprehensible way."
Tehin, who is free on $3 million bail, was ordered to surrender to the U. S. Marshal's Service on June 17 so he can be taken into custody. The 58-year- old showed little emotion as he left the federal courthouse in San Francisco after being sentenced to 14 years and two months behind bars, the penalty recommended by the federal probation department.
"Nick was ready for the worst," said his attorney, Harold Rosenthal. "But he suffers quietly."
For Rosenthal, however, the sentence came as a shock.
"I'm floored," he said. "This is the longest sentence I've ever had one of my clients receive in federal court."
A jury convicted Tehin in October of dipping into $2 million of his clients' settlement accounts in 2001 and 2002. He was found guilty of six counts of mail fraud and nine counts of money laundering.
Some of his victims were disabled children whose families had hired Tehin to represent them in medical malpractice suits. Others were farmworkers and impoverished tenants who had retained him to settle a case with their landlord over deplorable conditions at their Napa apartment complex, Vintage Ranch.
(Excerpt) Read more at sfgate.com ...
He's gonna have a fun time in jail.....bend over....
I guess this means that about 7/8 of the attorneys out there are in deep doo-doo.
"stealing from his poor and sickly clients"
It ain't the thievery, but who it's from that counts. If he stole from the government, insurance companies and the middle class, he'd be Lawyer of the Year.
No, he'll be treated very well in jail. He'll help people with their appeals and that will get him protection and just about anything else he wants while he's in there.
"He's gonna have a fun time in jail.....bend over...."
His jail will be like a country club. He won't have to worry about that kind of thing and he will probably be out in 4 or 5 years tops. It'll be a nice little vacation for him. well maybe not that nice;^)
Suspicion fell on him when it was noticed that his letterhead included the word "Esq."
Not bloody likely. He will spend his time in Club Fed, which may not be the luxury palace it once was, but it's not exactly Shawshank either.
Not true. This being a Federal conviction, he will have to serve 80% of his sentence at least.
Being as he's from San Francisco I doubt thats a punishment.
It's the crooks like this that ruin it for the 5% of lawyers who are honest.....
(Denny Crane: "Sometimes you can only look for answers from God and failing that... and Fox News".)
Assistant U.S. Attorney Miles Ehrlich, who prosecuted the case, said Tehin had taken nearly all the $2 million settlement to put toward the mortgage on his Pacific Heights mansion, pay for upkeep on his yacht, buy pricey meals and bottles of wine at Le Central restaurant in San Francisco and supplement other bills he had run up over the years while living beyond his means.
Then, he stole money from the children's accounts to pay back the Vintage Ranch clients after they threatened to sue Tehin.
Rosenthal begged the court to see his client as a man who had built an honorable, altruistic and prosperous life from hard work, but when faced with financial problems, simply snapped.
"Mr. Tehin has lived 58 years, and this court has seen a particularly ugly part of that life, which was an aberration," he said in an effort to persuade the judge to give his client a lesser sentence of five years and three months.
The defense painted Tehin, who was born to poor Russian emigres, as a man who worked his way out of the back roads of the Central Valley and through college and law school to build one of the most respected law firms in San Francisco. Once he was at the top, he couldn't afford to stay there.
Mr. Tehin operated a fraud similar to a Ponzi scheme in which Mr. Tehin used settlement funds received on behalf of one client to pay off other clients whose settlements he had already stolen. In one incident Mr. Tehin sent a fraudulent billing statement to a client, falsely charging her thousands of dollars for expert witnesses who never did any work on the client's case, along with travel expenses unrelated to her case.
One case involved a $250,000 settlement obtained on behalf of a newborn who sustained severe neurological injuries during the delivery as the result of alleged negligence by physicians and hospital staff. A second case involved a $1 million settlement Mr. Tehin had secured on behalf of two infant children with cystic fibrosis. Mr. Tehin deposited and stole the entire $1 million without even telling the parents of his clients that he had received settlement funds in their case.
It sounds like he wants to run for Vice President.
Can a homestead purchased with stolen money be seized by the court to reimburse the victims?
My bet is that before the middle of June, some mysterious malady will strike this guy and he'll request to have his sentence changed for health reasons.
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