Lawyer steals from clients, his employer, his wife, and even his mother in a fraudulent check scheme. Michael Eisner‘s fraudulent check scheme brought in over $4.8 million. Eisner managed a law firm in Northern Virginia that specialized in bankruptcies. Unfortunately, it appears the lawyer steals from clients and takes advantage of his trusting clients who are in a vulnerable financial situation.
Eisner tricked law firms into depositing checks that were purportedly for client settlements but were in fact fake. Once the firms deposited the checks, he then made withdraws against the accounts on behalf of his unaware clients.
He has admitted to running a bad check scheme against several banks and competing law firms. He also misused credit cards by making false payments on bills from bank accounts that he knew contained insufficient funds. This type of scheme is called credit card “kiting”. His wife and mother owned a couple of the credit card accounts. However, neither of them knew about Eisner’s criminal scheme. The credit card scheme alone racked up half-a-million dollars in unpaid credit card bills.
In the third prong of his ill-fated illegal scheme, Eisner persuaded bankruptcy clients to liquidate their assets and pay the cash to Eisner. Eisner had told them that he was going to use the money to pay their creditors. However, he spent hundreds of thousands of client money on his own spending spree rather than paying creditors as he promised.
Violation of Ethical Rules
Basic legal ethics for attorneys dictate that they judiciously manage their clients’ funds and serve their clients’ interests. It is an ethical violation to commingle a client’s funds from a settlement with your own money, even if it is accidental or innocent of any malicious intent. However, to intentionally steal money from clients or commit identity theft in the process of enriching oneself at the expense of clients is not only unethical, it is illegal, as well.
Client funds are to be stored in separate accounts that are carefully monitored and can only be drawn from for appropriate expenses or for authorized settlements or similar purposes on behalf of the client. A lawyer cannot mix his own money or invest the client’s money in risky ventures to make the lawyer money that could risk the client’s principal sum.
Loss of License and Prison Time
Eisner lost his Virginia law license for participating in a fraud scheme. He also may face up to twenty years in Federal prison when he is sentenced. As he has already admitted to committing the fraudulent activities that he was accused of; therefore, the U.S. Attorney does not need to go to trial against him.
If you have more questions about legal malpractice or lawyer ethics, contact us at (312) 223-1699.