The ABA reports: 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. Reyes begins serving her prison term in August.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Reyes worked for 17 under the supervision of California attorney Brian Ching. The California Bar disbarred Ching in 2012 for failing to supervise Reyes and allowing his clients to be victimized.
Prosecutors said Reyes contacted defendants who had been sued by Ching’s clients, claimed to be acting for the firm in negotiating settlements, and kept the money. Clients started complaining to Ching about missing funds in 2009 and he confronted Reyes, who denied wrongdoing.
After more clients complained and the State Bar opened its own investigation, Ching fired Reyes in June 2011, but she continued contacting clients and taking their money.
Reyes pleaded guilty in April to mail fraud and tax evasion. Her public defender said that she is a church-going mother, active in community service, who offers no excuse for her conduct.
The bottom line: Be careful who you hire and actually supervise those who can get you into disciplinary trouble. See Ohio Prof.Cond.R. 5.3.