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'Lawyer You Can Trust' Gets Prison for Theft

The Web site for Raymond A. Desautels III once boasted that he was "a lawyer you can trust." Last week, the disbarred Massachusetts lawyer was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison for misappropriating $1.99 million from a client's account, reports the Telegram & Gazette in Worcester.

Desautels received the $1.99 million from a client in Ireland, Kevin Phelan, to use in a purchase of commercial real estate in Pennsylvania. He received the money on Jan. 24, 2008 to use in the closing scheduled for Jan. 31. But on Jan. 28, Desautels disbursed the money to Allen Seymour, a businessman in his hometown of Oxford, Mass., who said he needed it temporarily to dupe potential lenders about his net worth.

Seymour promptly took the money and ran. Customs agents arrested him a week later in Florida, where he had attempted to leave the country for Venezuela on a private jet. Agents found Seymour with his wife, five children, the family dog and some $1.4 million in cash, concealed in bags hidden in his luggage. Seymour was sentenced in July to 51 months imprisonment.

As for former lawyer Desautels, he broke down in tears as he told the federal judge at his sentencing that it was impossible for him to say how sorry he was. "I should have known better and I didn't," he said. Earlier, he had pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud. He had also pleaded guilty last month in state court to five counts of inducing a mortgage lender to part with property by false pretenses, allegedly as part of a scheme organized by Seymour.

Desautels' former client, Kevin Phelan, appeared in court to urge the judge to impose a sentence that would send a strong message to other lawyers. Afterwards, Phelan said he thought Desautels got too light a sentence.

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 16, 2009 at 03:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


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