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Wisconsin Lawyer Charged with Embezzlement
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Summary: A Waukesha County lawyer hit with a two-year suspension has now been charged with embezzlement and forgery after taking money from his employer.

Two years after having his law license suspended, a Hartland attorney is finally being charged with two felonies for the incident that lead to his suspension. Matthew S. MacLean embezzled over $600,000 from his former employer between 2008 and 2013.

  
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MacLean was the general counsel and other executive positions for Red Granite Advisors LLC, according to the criminal complaint alleging theft in a business setting and forgery. MacLean received a summons on Monday and is set to appear in Milwaukee County Circuit Court on Friday.

Red Granite, an investment management firm, had an office in downtown Milwaukee that was acquired twice during the time that MacLean was stealing money. The first company to acquire the firm was Ziegler Lotsoff Capital Management, LLC. The second company was Stifel Financial Corp.

The complaint alleges that he laundered some of the money through an account with BrickStix, LLC, a company he and his wife started through an idea by their then-9-year-old son. The company makes reusable stickers for Lego bricks. He denies that any of the money went into operating BrickStix.

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The complaint explains how MacLean embezzled the money from Red Granite. It is believed that he noticed an error by their landlord, law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, and used that error to his advantage. Michael Best was not billing Red Granite for common area maintenance so he submitted fake bills from Michael Best to his landlord. He deposited the resulting payments into his own account. He went further and diverted payments for parking and rent that were intended for the law firm into his own account as well.

There were three other main ways that MacLean stole the money. In some instances, he would write checks directly to his own account then change Red Granite’s books so that it appeared as if the payments they were making were going to legitimate vendors. He would also pay his personal credit card bills from their accounts and then use his access and power to change their books so that it appeared like the payments were for real expenses. His third way of embezzling the money was by diverting accounts payable checks that were for Red Granite to his own accounts.



Red Granite became suspicious of their internal financials in 2013. In 2014, they reported him to prosecutors and Michael Best reported him to the Office of Lawyer Regulation. MacLean allegedly tried to cover his tracks by telling Red Granite that someone at Michael Best was embezzling the money and telling Michael Best that someone at Red Granite was embezzling the money. He almost persuaded both companies that the books were fine by creating a fake Red Granite bank account and by sending checks for unpaid rents and other bills to Michael Best.

MacLean has paid back $458,000 to Red Granite’s parent company, according to the Office of Lawyer Regulations. However, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office alleges that he has stolen much more than they originally believed.

The Office of Lawyer Regulations had sought to disbar MacLean but went with the recommended three-year suspension sanction. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ended up going with a two-year suspension when he pleaded no contest to the ethics charges against him.

MacLean acknowledged his wrongdoings, blaming them on his bipolar disease. He says he is now receiving treatment for the illness.

Do you think suffering from bipolar disease is a valid reason for embezzling hundreds of thousands from his employer? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about attorneys that embezzled money, read these articles:

Photo: flickr.com



 

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