Former KC Attorney Sentenced for Money Laundering, took $800,000 from Clients
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former Kansas City, Mo., attorney was sentenced in federal court today for money laundering.
James C. Wirken, 70, of Kansas City, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan to one year and one month in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Wirken to pay a fine of $4,000.
Wirken was a lawyer and principal at The Wirken Law Group until he surrendered his law license in 2012 and was disbarred by the Missouri Supreme Court. On May 12, 2014, Wirken pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering.
Wirken admitted that he withdrew money from his law firm’s trust account, which was being held for the benefit of a client, and deposited the funds into his law firm’s operating account. Wirken wrote six checks between December 2009 and Jan. 13, 2010, totaling $116,730. Wirken then used the funds for his personal benefit. All of the transactions were conducted without the client’s consent.
According to court documents, Wirken’s law firm was engaged in a long-term, unethical, unsustainable Ponzi-type business model that spanned over many years. As early as 2007, Wirken began improperly borrowing substantial amounts of money from clients, and then he refused to pay his clients back. Wirken borrowed over $800,000 from at least seven clients from 2007 to 2012, according to court documents.
For example, court documents cite one instance when Wirken borrowed $100,000 from a client and refused to make payments on the loan even when his client was diagnosed with cancer and needed money to pay for the treatments. Wirken’s client later died from the disease.This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Roseann A. Ketchmark. It was investigated by IRS-Criminal Investigation.