Criminal Justice

PI Lawyer Plea: $1.3 M, Up to 15 Years, in $13 M Fraud Case

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A federal judge has approved a plea deal that calls for a once-prominent Miami personal injury lawyer to serve up to 15 years in prison.

Louis Robles, who has been disbarred, must also repay former clients $1.3 million of the more than $13 million he defrauded them of in asbestos claim proceeds, according to the plea deal approved today by U.S. District Judge Alan Gold, as the case was about to go to trial. The judge has expressed frustration at the minimal amount of restitution, compared to the amount Robles stole from some 4,400 clients. However, federal prosecutors and a private attorney appointed by Miami-Dade Circuit Court to take charge of Robles’ cases urged the judge to accept the plea because this is the only money, realistically, that can be recovered, reports the Miami Herald.

The judge reportedly rejected an earlier plea deal calling for Robles to be sentenced to a 10-year prison term.

Robles, 59, is already in jail, following the revocation of his bond earlier this year, and the $1.3 million is available to former clients because this amount was frozen by authorities after his indictment last year. Originally charged last year with 41 counts of mail fraud, he pleaded guilty today to three counts of mail fraud. Each carries a sentence of up to five years, which could add up to 15 years if he is sentenced to the maximum term on all counts and ordered to serve the sentences consecutively.

Robles is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 4, reports the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

At the height of his career, he was known as the King of Torts and lived in a $13 million waterfront mansion, but Robles fell from grace after the turn of the century. He was the subject of a bar investigation in 2001 and lost his law license in 2003, the Sun-Sentinel says. According to the indictment, the now-bankrupt Robles dipped into client funds to support his lavish lifestyle starting in 1994. He reportedly collected more than $164 million for 7,000 asbestos clients from 1989 to 2002.

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