A former personal injury lawyer was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison on Monday after embezzling millions of dollars from more than a hundred clients to fund her luxurious lifestyle.
The Department of Justice announced on Monday that Lori E. Deveny, 57, defrauded at least 135 clients out of more than $3.8 million in insurance proceeds between April 2011 and May 2019.
“The cruelest thing of all is knowingly providing false hope,” IRS Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin said in a statement. “Having already suffered losses, Ms. Deveny’s clients deserved an attorney who represented their best interests. What they got instead was someone who inflicted more loss.”
According to the DOJ, Deveny took advantage of her vulnerable clients by forging insurance checks, depositing client funds into her personal bank accounts, and convincing them they would receive compensation for their injuries.
Deveny used the millions of dollars she made from her clients to pay for expensive trips, which included more than $173,000 on an African safari and big game hunting trips, $35,000 on taxidermy expenses for her kills, and $60,000 on multiple stays at a luxury nudist resort in Palm Springs, California.
Deveny was indicted on 24 counts of fraud in 2019 and was charged with mail, bank, and wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and filing a false tax return.
She pleaded guilty in June 2022 to one count each of mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, money laundering, and filing a false income tax return, as well as two counts of aggravated identity theft. As part of her deal with prosecutors, she agreed to also pay restitution.
Deveny’s attorneys had argued that she deserved a sentence of five years in prison and said she hoped to take responsibility for her actions. They added she had been in an abusive relationship with her husband, whose compulsive spending habits left the couple unable to pay their bills at the time of the crimes.
Meanwhile, one of Deveny’s victims, who lost more than $300,000 over the course of 13 years, described the huge impact the crimes had in a letter to the court.
“After the paltry compensation from the victim’s fund, it does not even begin to calculate the actual cost of our lives after this terrible situation,” the victim wrote. “Our medical bills continue to grow. We experience a higher cost for daily lives because we have had to build special accommodations into every single living situation.”