Bad Lawyers

Attorney Robert Beck Stole from Clients to Fund Lavish Lifestyle
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Robert Beck

Summary: An Illinois attorney has been stealing from clients to fund a lavish lifestyle, including nearly $30,000 towards monthly household expenses.

A Wheaton, Illinois attorney pleaded guilty to theft during a hearing on Thursday where prosecutors detailed his excessive spending that resulted in the theft of over $800,000 from his clients. Estate lawyer Robert C. Beck, 50, was in the DuPage County court where his admitted “spending problem” was detailed by the prosecutors, involving roughly $30,000 each month towards household expenses.

  
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Beck pleaded guilty to one felony count in a deal where the prosecutors dropped the other charges against him. The plea deal did not include a set sentence, which could be up to 15 years. His sentence will be during an October 26 hearing.

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission disbarred Beck last year over the complaints and evidence against him. One victim was an elderly client with dementia.

Assistant State Attorney Diane Michalak laid out an outline of his thefts during the hearing. In 2015, at the conclusion of an investigation that began when another attorney and bank investigator filed a complaint against him, Beck was charged. The attorney was concerned over the way Beck was using her client’s funds. It was determined that he had entered into a scheme to use the money from one client to pay another client so that his theft would go unnoticed. The total amount that he had eventually stolen from clients was $822,000.

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Michalak said, “When interviewed by (by an investigator), the defendant admitted taking the funds without authority and did so because he and his wife have a spending problem.” Beck was spending around $29,000 a month on a car loan, a boat loan, to buy household items and furniture, and to remodel his kitchen. Most of the money came to him in order to establish trusts for clients, many of which were elderly.

Prosecutors believe the thefts started in 2011 when he set up a trust fund for a woman who had died shortly before. A month after he started the account, he started writing checks from her Edwards Jones account and depositing them into his business and personal accounts. Over the 18-months, he ended up writing checks from her accounting totaling $189,000.



At the time in 2011, Beck was spending $18,000 a month for personal expenses. By the early of 2014, he and his wife’s expenses had raised significantly to $29,000 a month. This is when investigators were catching wind of his misconduct.

At one point in the investigation, prosecutors feared he had stolen over $2 million from his clients. The accounts that he messed with include four deceased former clients and three current clients.

Should all attorney’s caught stealing from clients be required to pay everything back? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about attorneys that stole from their clients’ trusts, read these articles:

Photo: abc7chicago.com



 

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