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Lawyer Gets 9 Years for Stealing from Clients
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Lawyer receives 9 years for embezzlement

 

Summary: Crystal Lake lawyer receives 9 years for stealing $1.2 million from clients.

  
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Sometimes the worst lawyers aren’t greedy so much as struggling with their own demons. This may be the case of Curt Rehberg, 50, a lawyer from Crystal Lake, who was sentenced to nine years in prison last Wednesday for stealing $1.2 million from clients.

“I want you to know how incredibly sorry I am,” Rehberg said at the McHenry County courtroom, weeping, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “You trusted me … we were friends … you couldn’t have seen it coming. There is no security to protect you from what I did.”

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Most of what he did was to control his client’s settlement funds and simply keep the money for himself. This was the case even with $525,000 a client had entrusted with him, that had been willed to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital from a woman who later died of cancer.

That client, Ronald Kalemba, said he trusted Rehberg, and gave him the money that his girlfriend had willed for the children.



“I trusted him. That’s what you have a lawyer for,” he explained. “I feel sorry for the kids at St. Jude’s.”

It was such persistent and exorbitant abuse of trust that lead Judge Sharon Prather to call his crimes “unspeakable” and a “disgrace and dishonor to the system.”

“This is not a crime of greed,” explained Rehberg’s attorney, Henry Sugden. “He was trying to sustain his business and pay his clients back. … Alcohol kept him making worse and worse decisions. He lost his license, his reputation with his family, friends, and peers, peers in this courthouse. He was trying to pump the gas, fill the holes. He was not a greedy man. He lost 75 percent of his business.”

Sugden also cited Rehberg’s donations to charity, as if that amounted to a sign of his goodness, rather a relief of his guilt.

When facing what this will do to his family, his children, Rehberg said that others will call their father, “a scumbag lawyer who stole from his clients.” That much is obvious, and the old moral platitude fits: if you wouldn’t be known for doing a thing, don’t do it.

As for why Rehberg did it, he claimed he thought he would pay back the money, but “I could not pay it back, and when you asked, I lied, I drank … I hoped for a miracle, but that miracle never came.”

The cascading effect of permitting a wrong to become a way of life usually leads to such an inglorious end



 

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