Former Salt Lake City attorney sentenced for embezzling millions from vulnerable Utah clients

Calvin Curtis, 61, also was ordered to pay nearly $12.8M in restitution to his victims.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Estate attorney Calvin Curtis, who pleaded guilty to federal charges of wire fraud and money laundering in November, was sentenced to prison on Friday and ordered to pay over $12.7 million in restitution to his 26 victims.

A federal judge on Friday sentenced former Salt Lake City attorney Calvin Curtis to more than eight years in prison after he pleaded guilty last November to embezzling millions from his vulnerable clients.

Curtis, who specialized in special needs trusts, was accused of wire fraud and money laundering through his estate-planning law firm, where he allegedly stole $12.7 million from 26 separate clients, all of whom were elderly, disabled or incapacitated, prosecutors have said.

After entering his plea late last year, Curtis was released from custody in December ahead of a spring sentencing hearing, but then arrested again in January after violating the terms of his release agreement.

Curtis began his fraud scheme in January 2008, tranferring at least $9.5 million from a client’s trust account — intended for their care — into his own, according to a news release from the Justice Department. He later fraudulently stole an additional $135,000 from that client, which he then used to remodel a home he owned in Tampa, Florida.

Curtis admitted that he submitted fake financial statements to the client’s court-ordered conservator to conceal the fraud.

In pleading guilty to wire fraud, Curtis admitted that he also transferred $1,485,000 from a Schwab Investment Account in January 2018 into his own account, using the money to “support a lavish lifestyle with frequent travel.”

That lavish lifestyle included tickets to basketball and football games and making mortgage payments on his South Temple Street home and office in Salt Lake City, prosecutors have said.

Curtis initially stood before U.S. District Judge David Barlow in late April, expecting to be sentenced to about six years in prison as part of his plea agreement. But Barlow threw out the sentencing proposal, arguing that Curtis deserved a harsher sentence for his “cold-blooded, premeditated and repeated” fraud over 13 years.

The sentence that Barlow issued Friday totaled 97 months, about two years longer than the initial proposed sentence.

Curtis also was ordered to pay more than $12 million in restitution to his victims, and was sentenced to three years of supervised release upon the end of his prison term.