White-Collar Crime

Disbarred Lawyer Gets 5 Years in Federal Prison for Embezzling $1M From Elderly Clients

A lawyer for Louis M. Smith said his Parkinson’s disease is at least in part responsible for the now-disbarred Kentucky lawyer’s alleged embezzlement of over $1 million from two elderly women from his church and sought a sentence of home detention for his ailing 63-year-old client.

But a federal prosecutor disagreed, saying that Smith, out of greed, gained legal authority over their assets and then stole from his clients to maintain his luxurious lifestyle after his law practice began to wane, according to the Associated Press and the Courier-Journal.

Because the money Smith embezzled was spent on non-material things, such as expensive meals, it can’t be recouped for his victims and their families, said Assistant U.S. Attorney James Lesousky Jr.

Smith was convicted earlier this year in federal court in Louisville, Ky., of four counts of wire fraud and two counts of unlawful transfer of stolen funds. He was sentenced Tuesday to 63 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley Jr, who told Smith he had victimized “extremely vulnerable” individuals who were once his friends.

Although Smith’s law license suspended in 2008 on an interim basis, Kentucky Supreme Court documents say he continued to represent the executor of an estate of a woman from which he obtained around $467,000.

Smith was voluntarily disbarred earlier this year. Findlaw provides a copy of the supreme court’s opinion.

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