Criminal Justice

Paralegal who bilked clients and got boss disbarred is sentenced to 27 months

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A longtime secretary, paralegal and office manager for a since-disbarred California lawyer has been sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison for embezzling $327,000 from the firm and its clients.

In addition to restitution in the mail fraud case, Ana Lissa Reyes must also pay $67,448 to the Internal Revenue Service concerning tax evasion between 2006 and 2011, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. A judge in the Oakland case ordered her to begin serving her prison term in August.

Federal prosecutors said Reyes, now 42, contacted defendants in cases brought by the law firm of Brian Ching and secretly arranged settlements, keeping the money for herself.

Clients complained to Ching in 2009, and he confronted Reyes. But she denied wrongdoing, explained an FBI agent in a sworn declaration. After more complaints and a state bar investigation, Ching fired Reyes in 2011, the newspaper reports. She had worked for the firm for 17 years.

Ching was disbarred in 2012 for failing to supervise Reyes adequately and other violations of legal ethics rules. A California Lawyer article (scroll down) provides further details.

See also: “Paralegal admits embezzling $327K, secretly settling law firm claims”

GMA News: “Fil-Am faces 25 years in jail for embezzling over $320,000 in US”

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