White-Collar Crime

Ex-attorney faces federal criminal case over claimed $1M in client thefts

A longtime Oregon personal injury practitioner who gave up his law license last year in the face of complaints from over 40 clients that he had misappropriated their money is now the defendant in a federal criminal case.

Bryan Gruetter is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, accused of diverting over $1 million in client funds via interstate wire transfers, reports the Bend Bulletin. The claimed thefts took place between 2008 and 2012, according to a document filed in federal court in Eugene.

“Defendant and others used the clients’ money to pay for personal and business expenses rather than to pay the clients or to pay the clients’ legal, medical, insurance, or other associated costs as promised,” it states.

A spokeswoman for the Oregon State Bar said it paid out $939,000 in claims to Gruetter’s former clients, a record for the state. Attorney assessments for its client security fund were increased from $15 to $45 as a result of the Gruetter case, to cover a shortfall.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “After Receiving 19 Complaints, Ore. Bar Gains Control of Law Firm”

Oregon Public Broadcasting: “Bend Attorney Accused Of Ethics Charges Resigns From Oregon Bar”

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