Federal judge rejects plea-deal sentence for lawyer accused of stealing nearly $13M from clients
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A federal judge in Salt Lake City has rejected a plea deal calling for a sentence of about six years in prison for an estate lawyer accused of stealing $12.7 million from 26 elderly, disabled or incapacitated clients.
Salt Lake City lawyer Calvin Curtis, 61, withdrew his guilty plea after U.S. District Judge David Barlow of the District of Utah found that the terms weren’t reasonable, according to a docket entry.
Barlow said the alleged fraud was “cold-blooded, premeditated and repeated,” and Curtis had “enriched himself on the backs of those who needed his help,” according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
Seven alleged victims or their representatives made statements to the court, according to the docket entry. A common theme was that Curtis should get the maximum sentence for stealing money that could have been used on necessities that include medicine and medical care, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
“I don’t think Calvin is human,” one woman said. “I feel that he’s the devil.”
Curtis had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering in November 2021, according to a prior Department of Justice press release. As part of the deal, Curtis admitted that he specialized in special needs trusts, and he used embezzled money to support a lavish lifestyle.
The plea deal called for restitution of $12.7 million. Curtis has forfeited about $1.4 million, according to Fox 13. But Barlow said the likelihood of recovering the rest for victims is “failingly small” if not “impossible.”
Curtis’ lawyer, Greg Skordas, said his client had helped authorities unravel the fraud and find money that could be used to pay the victims, according to KUTV. Curtis should get credit for his cooperation, Skordas said.
After Barlow’s decision, Skordas said he and his client are disappointed, but not surprised, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
“It’s not the end. We’re not finished,” Skordas said.