Former Oregon lawyer who stole over $3.4M from clients pleads guilty

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A former Oregon personal injury lawyer who stole more than $3.4 million from her clients has pleaded guilty to seven federal charges in what the state bar has called the worst fraud by a lawyer in the state’s history.

Lori E. Deveny, who relinquished her law license in Oregon in May 2018, pleaded guilty Monday to mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, money laundering and filing a false income tax return from 2012, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Deveny stole money she held in trust for her clients and used it to pay off credit card debt and loans and to support a lavish lifestyle, federal prosecutors said.

The expenses included big game hunting trips to Africa, taxidermy costs for big game hunting trophies, other vacations, her husband’s photography business, home remodeling and expensive cigars, according to investigators from the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI.

Prosecutors will seek a sentence of about 10 years for Deveny, Assistant U.S. Attorney Claire M. Fay told the court.

The money came from insurance proceeds that were supposed to be paid to her clients. The fraud occurred from April 2011 through May 2018, according to the plea agreement.

The Oregon State Bar has approved $1.3 million in payouts from its Client Security Fund resulting from claims submitted by clients who said they lost money as a result of Deveny’s dishonesty as their lawyer.

She will remain out of custody until her sentencing in November. She’ll pay at least $3.4 million in restitution and forfeit $52,620, according to Fay. Deveny told the court she is being treated for a mental illness but said she wasn’t taking any medication that interfered with her ability to understand the court proceeding.

Deveny had faced a 24-count indictment in federal court. She also is being prosecuted in Multnomah County Circuit Court on 92 counts of theft, forgery and other charges.