Bay Area Law Firm Paralegal Pleads Guilty To Fraud
OAKLAND – Ana Lissa Reyes pleaded guilty in federal court in Oakland today to mail fraud and tax evasion, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag.
In pleading guilty, Reyes admitted to having worked as a secretary, office manager, and paralegal for a Bay Area law firm. Reyes admitted that from about 2006 through June 2011, she, without authorization, settled claims without the knowledge of the law firm or its clients and stole the settlement proceeds. Reyes admitted to engaging clients without the law firm’s knowledge and to stealing clients’ retainer fee payments. Reyes also admitted that in carrying out the scheme to defraud, she created a bogus company, Lincoln Litigation, to correspond with clients without the law firm’s knowledge, and to defraud the clients into believing that their cases were ongoing. Reyes admitted to embezzling a total of $327,795.05 from the law firm and its clients.
Reyes also admitted to under-reporting her income for the calendar years 2006 through 2011. For each of these tax years, Reyes admitted that she knew her joint taxable income was substantially in excess of the amount stated on the return, resulting in additional tax due and owing to the United States.
Reyes, 42, of San Lorenzo, California, was charged by an information on January 25, 2013 with five counts of mail fraud in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1341, and six counts of tax evasion in violation of Title 26 U.S.C. § 7201. Reyes is currently on pre-trial release on a $100,000 bond.
Reyes’ sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 10, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. before the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, U.S. District Court Judge, in Oakland. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. § 1341, is 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of tax evasion, in violation of Title 26 U.S.C. § 7201, is 6 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution. However, any sentence will be imposed by the court only after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Wade Rhyne is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Legal Assistant Janice Pagsanjan and Paralegal Patty Lau. The prosecution is the result of a year-long investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.