Lori Deveny, a Portland lawyer who was accused of stealing funds from clients, has been arrested and arraigned in federal court.
Deveny, who has resigned from the Oregon State Bar and can no longer practice law, drew attention in January when Willamette Week reported that more than two dozen clients filed complaints claiming she'd stolen roughly $2 million from them.
"This is an exceedingly dramatic case," a spokeswoman for the Bar, which investigates complaints against lawyers, told the weekly at the time. "And we are probably not done."
The organization shared its findings with federal law enforcement authorities, and on Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Deveny at her home. She appeared in federal court this afternoon, where the indictment was unsealed.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release, the 24-count indictment charged Deveny with "mail, wire and bank fraud; aggravated identity theft; money laundering, and both filing false tax returns and failing to file tax returns as part of a scheme to defraud her clients and use the proceeds to pay for personal expenses."
Deveny stands accused of "systematically" stealing from her clients, and "forging client signatures on settlement documents she sent to various insurance companies," according to U.S. DOJ.
"Deveny is also alleged to have used stolen funds to pay for personal credit card and loan payments, numerous big game hunting trips to Africa and the resulting taxidermy costs, other vacations, her husband's photography business, home remodeling, expensive cigars and other expenses associated with a lavish lifestyle."
According to DOJ, Deveny is scheduled for a 7-day jury trial starting July 16, 2019.
The allegation that Deveny forged client signatures on settlement documents comes as she stands accused of doing so in civil court as well.
Deveny's most high-profile client was known as M.S.G., the alleged victim of wealthy Democratic activist Terry Bean who currently faces charges of child sex abuse and sodomy in Lane County.
M.S.G. has lawsuits pending against Deveny and Bean claiming Bean and Deveny negotiated a $220,000 settlement in an effort to stop him from testifying — but M.S.G. claims the signature on the settlement was not his own, and Deveny never shared with him the full amount.
Similarly, a bar complaint has been filed against Deanna Wray, a former colleague of Deveny's accusing her of participating in a "plan to conceal" a key witness in the Bean case. Documents show the Portland police detective investigating Bean has been in touch with Wray's former law firm about the allegation.
The criminal investigation of Deveny has prompted speculation that she might cooperate with ongoing investigations of Bean and potentially Wray as well.
Bean has denied wrongdoing, including that he paid off M.S.G. to not testify criminally, saying the sum was only to settle civil claims.
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