Casey Anthony's Lawyer Gets 5 Months in Federal Prison
A lawyer who represented Casey Anthony was sentenced to federal prison earlier this week after he pleaded guilty to charges of fraud.
The Rancho Santa Fe PI attorney pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud earlier this year. He also admitted that he forged client signatures, and used notary stamps to convince investors to advance him millions of dollars, reports the Patch.
Macaluso's Funding Agreements
Court papers state that Macaluso entered into "funding agreements" with investors by which they would receive a portion of his clients' recoveries in the future. Such arrangements require written informed consent by clients. Macaluso did not obtain such consent from a number of clients and instead forged their signatures on the necessary documents. Additionally, he forged the stamps and signatures of notary publics in order to falsely make it appear as if the signings had been legitimately witnessed.
The funding agreements provided for rates of return that were exorbitantly high and repayment would reschedule every six months. "[S]ome agreements eventually required Macaluso to repay investors 200 percent of the original investment," a statement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California said. These extreme terms incented Macaluso to settle cases quickly rather than in his clients' best interests.
Macaluso apologized to the sentencing court and described his crime as a "huge error in judgment," on his part. Apparently, this tends to be a habit with Mr. Mancaluso who arrived in time for his fraud sentencing by private jet; and drove away in an equally luxurious car. Way to endear one's self to the judge.
Previous Strange Happenstances
Macaluso's most notorious client is arguably Casey Anthony, the young Orlando woman who was accused and later acquitted of killing her two-year old daughter, Caylee. Macaluso served as co-counsel on the Casey Anthony defense team only briefly and withdrew in February 2010. Coincidentally, the California Bar updated his status at the time to "not eligible to practice law."
Also coincidentally, the airplane on which Anthony and Macaluso departed Orlando the day of Anthony's acquittal tragically crashed a year later. Pilot inexperience was blamed as the cause of the disaster.
Todd Macaluso's five month sentence will begin in January of 2016. Additionally, Macaluso was ordered to pay a $100,000 fine and $150,000 in restitution.
- Attorney Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Clients and Investors (FBI.gov)
- IRS Ethics Lawyer Disbarred -- for Ethics Violations, Of Course (FindLaw's Strategist)
- Men Not as Ethical as Women, Lessons for Attorneys in Ethics (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- How Lawyers Pad Their Hours and Why You Shouldn't (FindLaw's Strategist)