Utah attorney pleads guilty to embezzling $9.5M from his clients

Prosecutors had said Calvin Curtis used the money to fund a “lavish lifestyle.”

A Salt Lake City attorney pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to wire fraud and money laundering, crimes he committed to embezzle at least $9.5 million from clients of his estate planning firm, according to a news release.

Attorney Calvin Curtis, 61, fraudulently diverted funds from at least 22 trusts since 2008, federal prosecutors had said in a U.S. District Court filing. His “greed had devastating consequences for his clients, who placed their trust and money in his hands,” said Special Agent in Charge Dennis Rice of the Salt Lake City FBI.

In a plea agreement, Curtis admitted to transferring millions of dollars intended for the care of a client into his own accounts, as well as creating fake financial statements in an effort to conceal the fraud, the release said.

Prosecutors had said Curtis used the money to fund what they called a “lavish lifestyle” that included frequent travel; purchasing expensive gifts as well as tickets to basketball and football games; renovating and making mortgage payments on his combined home and office in a mansion on South Temple, and operating his law firm.

Curtis could face more than six years in federal prison when he is sentenced in March.

“Defrauding vulnerable and elderly adults is a reprehensible and greedy act that is deserving of federal prison time,” Acting United States Attorney Andrea T. Martinez said in the release. “ ... Our concern is with the victims of these crimes and their ability to obtain basic needs moving forward.”

Emails sent to Curtis’ firm for comment were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Estate planning is the process a person undergoes to plan how their assets will be handled in the event of their death.

Rice said in the release that “financial fraud cases like this are not limited to a few victims.” Anyone who believes they may be a victim of this crime is encouraged to call the FBI at 801-579-1400 to file a report.