White-Collar Crime

Ex-Attorney, a Harvard Law Grad, Gets Nearly 5 Years in $7M Ponzi Scheme

Unlike most convicted Ponzi schemers, Robert Tunnell didn’t live high on the hog, his defense lawyer, Edward Swanson, said in a federal court filing.

But the 73-year-old Tunnell couldn’t bring himself to admit, Swanson said, that he’d failed in investing nearly $10 million, most of which came from friends and relations. Between 2006 and June 2011, when Tunnell was arrested, he lost about $7 million, while using Ponzi scheme tactics to keep investors mollified, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

On Friday, a federal judge in San Francisco signed off on an agreed prison term of four years and nine months. Prosecutors told U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer that Tunnell’s son, David, who was not involved in the scheme, came up with the money to repay the investors.

Admitted in 1971, Tunnell resigned from practice 30 years later as he was facing accusations that he had made personal use of $300,000 from his law firm.

An earlier ABAJournal.com post notes that he graduated from Harvard Law School.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Lawyer-Turned-Money Manager Accused in Alleged $7M Ponzi Scheme”

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