TOPEKA — The victims of a Topeka lawyer convicted of stealing more than $500,000 from his clients' trust funds can recover some of the money.
The Associated Press
A special fund that attorneys pay into will provide up to $350,000 for victims of Robert M. Telthorst, Kansas courts spokesman Ron Keefover said. Telthorst, 52, was sentenced last month to five years in federal prison for wire fraud and money laundering.
He also was ordered to repay $537,680.
Telthorst admitted that he defrauded clients from November 2005 to August 2011 by taking money for his benefit and to cover money taken from other clients.
U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom has said one of the clients Telthorst defrauded was a charitable trust of $80,000 for the University of Kansas School of Business. The account balance dropped to less than $1,750 after Telthorst took funds for his own use.
Telthorst was disbarred after he surrendered his law license Dec. 11.
Keefover said it is possible for victims to receive 100 percent reimbursement for their loss.
In 1993, the Kansas Supreme Court established the Client Protection Fund, which is administered by a commission made up of one judge, four lawyers and two non-lawyers. The fund's caps on reimbursement are $125,000 per claim and $350,000 per attorney, Keefover said.
As of Feb. 20, there have been 771 claims filed on 230 attorneys, and as of July 1, there have been 527 claims paid totaling $1.8 million, Keefover said.
A claim must arise from the dishonest conduct of an active member of the bar, must occur by reason of a lawyer-client relationship, and must be filed within a year after the victim knew or should have known of the loss.
Keefover couldn't comment on how many Telthorst victims had applied for the funds.