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Utah attorney who pleaded guilty to fraud ordered to wrap up law practice, tell clients he’s a felon

Calvin Curtis had credit cards with combined limits of more than $92,000. Now, he can’t charge more than $2K.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Estate attorney Calvin Curtis, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering earlier this month, has been ordered to immediately resign as a trustee, wrap up his law practice within 30 days and tell all of his current clients that he’s a convicted felon, his lawyer said.

A Salt Lake City attorney who pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud and money laundering charges in November has been ordered to immediately resign as a trustee, wrap up his law practice within 30 days and tell all of his current clients that he’s a convicted felon, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Calvin Curtis, 61, also has been limited to the use of one credit card, which must have a limit of $2,000 or less. He isn’t allowed to open any new lines of credit.

The new requirements were established during a Friday court hearing regarding a motion filed by prosecutors last week.

U.S. attorneys had requested that Curtis be required to stop running up his credit card balances and immediately cease his work as an attorney. But the judge allowed Curtis to take a “wind-down period” of 30 days in order to wrap up his law practice, as long as he doesn’t take on any new clients, said his attorney, Greg Skordas. Curtis also can no longer serve as a trustee or act as a fiduciary.

After closing his law practice, Curtis will be required to find full-time employment that doesn’t involve legal work, according to Skordas.

The Department of Justice has accused Curtis of embezzling at least $9.5 million from clients of his estate-planning firm — many of whom were vulnerable in some way — then using the money to fund a “lavish lifestyle.” In all, federal prosecutors accused Curtis of fraudulently diverting funds from at least 22 trusts since 2008.

Curtis is currently on release pending his sentencing in March, since a judge determined that he was unlikely to flee and doesn’t pose a danger to anyone.

According to the prosecutors’ motion, conditions of Curtis’ release said he could not incur new credit charges or open new lines of credit. Curtis had argued that he’s allowed to use his cards within existing credit limits.

Curtis had planned to use his credit cards to pay several expenses for his girlfriend, including her $5,995 rent in Florida, her moving expenses of $3,000 and a security deposit and one month’s rent in her new home, documents state. He also said he was behind on several bills, including child support.

Curtis had “numerous” credit cards, the motion stated, including one with a $30,000 limit, one with a $27,500 limit, and one with a $35,000 limit.

“It is an affront to justice to allow Mr. Curtis to pay another person’s (combined) $8,995 rent and moving expenses while victims are literally out millions of dollars,” the U.S. attorneys said in the motion.

In light of Curtis’ criminal case, the Utah State Bar filed a petition on Dec. 1 to disbar him, court documents show. The Office of Professional Conduct also filed a motion to have Curtis immediately placed on interim suspension from the practice of law, saying his guilty pleas “reflect adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness, and fitness as a lawyer,” documents state.

On Tuesday, Skordas said he and Curtis plan to agree to the petition, but with the understanding that Curtis be allowed to wind down his law practice.

Curtis has also sold his mansion on South Temple, which prosecutors alleged that he renovated with millions of dollars in embezzled money. Skordas anticipated that Curtis will get about $1,250,000 for the house, and that all proceeds will go toward the restitution he must pay to victims.

In all, Curtis will likely end up paying about $15 million in restitution, Skordas said.