Lawyer Pleads Guilty To Stealing Money Intended For His Clients-Scheme Cost Victims More Than $100,000-
WASHINGTON – Deairich R. Hunter, 47, an attorney from Washington, D.C., pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from his theft of $109,830 in payments from insurance companies that were intended to settle some of his clients’ disability and personal injury claims.
The plea took place in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr., Debra Evans Smith, Acting 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 to a charge of theft or embezzlement in connection with health care. He is to be sentenced April 26, 2013 by the Honorable Beryl A. Howell. The charge carries a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. As part of his plea agreement, Hunter agreed to pay $109,830 in restitution to his clients and a medical provider whose bills were to be paid out of the settlement funds.
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 the defendant stole the settlement proceeds, resulting in a total loss amount from this scheme of $109,830.
In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen, Acting Assistant Director in Charge Smith, 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 is prosecuting the matter.