‘How do you do this?’: Utah attorney accused of embezzling millions from woman, 79, and other clients

Calvin Curtis, 61, could face more than six years in federal prison.

Before Glenn McConkey was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, she loved to zip down mountains on a bike or skis. Hundreds of trophies awarded to her over the years document her skill.

She also was a loving mother and grandmother, “incredibly strong and hardworking and very smart,” her daughter-in-law Sherry McConkey said Wednesday.

But around 2008, Sherry McConkey and her late husband, influential freeskier Shane McConkey, began noticing a change in Glenn. And in 2009, when Shane died while performing a BASE ski jump in Italy, his death seemed to accelerate her decline, Sherry McConkey said.

The now-79-year-old became aggressive, Sherry McConkey said. Sherry and her daughter Ayla — Glenn’s only granddaughter — started interacting with Glenn less. And Sherry started getting calls from people around town, reporting that Glenn seemed confused while driving, unable to find her home.

After a violent episode, Glenn McConkey was institutionalized, then placed into a long-term care facility, Sherry McConkey said.

But the family had no idea that, just before Shane McConkey’s death, Glenn’s attorney, Calvin Curtis, had apparently started scheming to defraud Glenn out of millions of dollars, according to the Department of Justice.

Accusations against attorney

Curtis pleaded guilty in federal court last week to charges of wire fraud and money laundering, accused of embezzling at least $9.5 million from clients of his estate planning firm, according to the DOJ.

Sherry McConkey accused Curtis of stealing more than $13 million from her mother-in-law alone over the course of seven years.

Curtis admitted in a plea agreement to transferring millions of dollars intended for Glenn McConkey’s 24-hour care into his own accounts while acting as her attorney. He also admitted to creating fake financial statements in an effort to conceal the fraud.

In all, federal prosecutors in a court filing accused Curtis, 61, of fraudulently diverting funds from at least 22 trusts belonging to clients of his firm since 2008.

(Courtesy of Laura Gray) Glenn McConkey, middle, is photographed with her daughter-in-law Sherry, right, a young Ayla and their dog.

‘Big red flags’

Sherry McConkey strongly began to suspect something was amiss around 2014, when she heard that Curtis had her mother-in-law disinherit Ayla, who is now 16.

Glenn was strict with money, but she was fair, Sherry McConkey said. Writing her granddaughter out of her will didn’t seem like Glenn at all. “She was the best grandmother,” Sherry McConkey said.

Then, through other people, Sherry McConkey began to hear that Curtis had also sold Glenn’s home in Park City, as well as other properties. Curtis had also appointed himself as the trustee of the McConkey estate, even though Glenn had already appointed Sherry as the trustee, Sherry said.

Sherry McConkey consulted attorneys about Curtis, but there was little they could do, they told her. So she consulted a lawyer friend of hers, Laura Milliken Gray, who started to investigate.

“There’s some very big red flags here,” Gray told Sherry McConkey at the time.

‘Who is this guy?’

In 2018, Gray and Sherry McConkey filed a lawsuit against Curtis, alleging that Ayla had been wrongfully disinherited and that Curtis was mismanaging Glenn’s assets.

Then, a few weeks ago, Sherry got a phone call: “All the money has been embezzled out of Glenn’s account,” Gray told her.

Glenn McConkey’s care facility costs about $12,000 a month, a cost that Sherry McConkey fears she cannot afford with her mother-in-law’s assets apparently depleted.

She worries that moving Glenn to a cheaper facility would be frightening and confusing to her.

“How do you do this to a woman who’s had such a hard life and then lost her son, and then is in the home, not knowing what is going on?” she said.

In a Facebook post on Nov. 15, Sherry McConkey wrote, “We recently found out some very upsetting and crazy news about Glenn McConkey. ... Please make sure you have a trusted lawyer and trustee. There are some really bad lawyers and there are some really good ones.”

Prosecutors have said Curtis used the money he’s suspected of defrauding from clients to fund a “lavish lifestyle,” which included frequent travel, expensive gifts, tickets to basketball and football games, and pricey renovations and mortgage payments on his combined home and office in a mansion on South Temple.

“Who is this guy?” Sherry McConkey said of Curtis. “He’s criminal.”

Investigation continues

Curtis could face more than six years in federal prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 15.

The Facebook page for his law firm, Calvin Curtis Attorney at Law PLLC, indicates that his estate planning practice has been permanently closed, but many of the page’s posts are still visible.

One post states: “There is a general understanding that every adult should have a last will and testament. However, for most people, exactly how that will is used remains a mystery.”

Gray said that she has been bombarded with calls and emails from other clients of Curtis, concerned about the status of their wills and estate plans because they cannot get hold of him. She believes the fraud investigation into Curtis is ongoing.

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of fraud may call the FBI at 801-579-1400.