Ex-BigLaw Partner Disbarred for $7.8 Million in Fake Bills

By William Vogeler, Esq. on July 12, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Steal $7.8 million from your law firm. What's the worst that could happen?

Go to jail? Lose your license? Get posterized on a law blog? It's all relative, but none of it is good.

For Keila Ravelo, it took some time. Apparently, that's what happens when you fake your bills.

Dummy Corporations

Ravelo, a former BigLaw partner, was arrested in 2014 for wire fraud, embezzlement, and other crimes. She and her husband allegedly created dummy corporations to funnel phony "legal consulting fees."

Revealing a scheme that dated back to 2012, she pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion in November 2017. On June 28, 2018, the New York Supreme Court disbarred her.

The appellate division cited a state statute that authorizes "automatic disbarment of an attorney convicted of a felony." In Ravelo's case, "automatic" would be seven months after her conviction and three years after arrest.

It was about time, but really? Who was keeping time at her law firms?

The Billing Scam

According to reports, Ravelo represented convicted cocaine dealer Melvin Feliz in a civil suit in the 1990s. She later married him.

They started two litigation support companies, and Ravelo approved "many, if not all" of the payments to the vendors. The bills, paid by Hunton & Williams and Willkie Farr & Gallagher, ballooned to nearly $8 million.

In one case, the debacle also brought down a proposed class action settlement. It would have resulted in $75 million in fees to the firm and other plaintiffs' lawyers.

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