Salt Lake City attorney charged in federal court for embezzling $9.5 million from clients

Prosecutors say the lawyer diverted money from at least 22 trusts over more than 10 years.

The Salt Lake Tribune

A Salt Lake City attorney faces federal charges for defrauding clients of millions of dollars for more than 10 years, using funds from the clients to fund what prosecutors called a “lavish lifestyle.”

Prosecutors allege that Calvin Curtis, an estate attorney, lied to clients and misrepresented or omitted facts to divert money from clients’ trusts for his personal uses — including to renovate his mansion in the 1100 East block of South Temple in Salt Lake City.

Curtis fraudulently diverted funds from at least 22 trusts, federal prosecutors said in a U.S. District Court filing, embezzling more than $9.5 million since 2008.

Curtis did not immediately return calls left at his office, seeking comment.

Listed as an example in the court filing, in 2016, Curtis sold real estate belonging to a client — referred to as G.M. — for $9.2 million. He allegedly made only $7.5 million available for the client’s care, and kept about $1.7 million for his own uses.

Curtis also is accused of lying to that client’s court-appointed conservator, Stagg Fiduciary Services, at least three times, by providing false accounting for the trust while he was personally using funds from the account.

He transferred money from that client’s investment accounts to her trust accounts and then into his law firm account or his personal checking accounts at Wells Fargo bank, prosecutors said.

Curtis “used proceeds to support a lavish lifestyle with frequent travel, to purchase tickets to basketball and football games, to give lavish gifts to others and to support operations of his law firm,” court documents state.

Curtis is charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering for his alleged actions.

If convicted, Curtis will have to hand over his home and law office on South Temple — which has nine bedrooms and eight full baths and is listed for sale for $2.5 million — as well as any property that can be traced to the crimes, cash for property that cannot be transferred and substitute property allowed by law.

Stagg Fiduciary, on behalf of a 79-year-old woman over whom it is conservator, and the woman’s guardian, Guardian Advocate Services, won a lawsuit last month against Curtis for these allegations. In that case, Judge William Kendall ordered Curtis to pay more than $12 million in damages. It is not clear whether the G.M. mentioned in the criminal filing is the same person listed in the civil suit.