Lawyer Sentenced To Prison Term For Stealing Money Intended For His Clients-Scheme Cost Victims More Than $100,000-
WASHINGTON – Deairich R. Hunter, 48, an attorney from Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to six months in prison, to be followed by six months of home detention, on a federal charge stemming from his theft of more than $100,000 in payments from insurance companies that were intended to settle some of his clients’ disability and personal injury claims.
The sentencing took place in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, and William P. White, Commissioner of the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking.
Hunter pled guilty in January 2013 to a charge of theft or embezzlement in connection with health care. He was sentenced by the Honorable Beryl A. Howell. The judge ordered Hunter to pay restitution and also entered a $73,901 forfeiture money judgment against him.
According to a statement of offense, signed by the defendant as well as the government, from August 1998 until April 2009, Hunter was a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and practiced law in the District of Columbia. Also during that time period, he was a member of the bar of the state of Maryland.
Between 2003 and 2009, Hunter was retained by various individuals in disability and personal injury claim disputes. Those clients generally agreed that Hunter was entitled to one-third of any recoveries regarding their settled claims. Hunter generally agreed to notify these clients of any offers of settlement and to inform clients of significant developments, among other things. In some cases, he agreed to pay his clients’ health care expenses directly from the proceeds of the recovery in their cases.
However, on a number of occasions, Hunter settled such claims without notifying his clients and without authority to do so and then he stole the settlement proceeds, resulting in a total loss amount from this scheme in excess of $109,830. The Court sentenced Hunter to pay $253,549 in restitution for the benefit of these former clients and other former clients who were harmed by Hunter’s actions.
In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen, Assistant Director in Charge Parlave, and Commissioner White commended the efforts of those who investigated the case from the FBI’s Washington Field Office and the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking. They also praised those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Legal Assistant Donna Galindo, former Assistant U.S. Attorney Courtney G. Saleski, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Graves, who prosecuted the matter.