(NEW YORK POST) – A former Portland, Oregon, lawyer defrauded injured clients out of millions of dollars in insurance payments – then spent some of the cash on lavish trips to a nudist resort, an African safari and other destinations, federal prosecutors said.
Lori E. Deveny, 57, was sentenced this week to more than eight years in prison in an insurance scheme in which she stole more than $3.8 million from at least 135 clients between 2011 and 2019 and then used the money to “bankroll a lavish lifestyle,” the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release.
“It’s hard to overstate the extraordinary impact Ms. Deveny’s crimes had on the many innocent and vulnerable victims who trusted her,” Ethan Knight, chief of the Economic Crimes Unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said in a statement.
“As a former attorney, she had a special responsibility to her clients and to the public, but she repeatedly abused this trust and prioritized her own needs. This is a just sentence for serious crimes.”
Deveny would steal clients’ identities and then forge insurance checks and deposit the funds into her personal bank account, court documents show. She would then deceive her clients by telling them the compensation for their various injuries would eventually show up in their bank accounts, according to court records.
“The cruelest thing of all is knowingly providing false hope,” said Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, IRS Criminal Investigation, Seattle Field Office. “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.”
Deveny received what she never provided her clients: “a picture of reality that those who choose to defraud will face the consequences of their actions,” Kressin added.
The DOJ noted in its press release that, “many of Deveny’s victims were particularly vulnerable to her criminal behavior after sustaining serious brain and bodily injuries and never received the insurance payouts they were owed.”
Deveny spent $150,000 on foreign and domestic airline tickets, $173,000 on African safari and big game hunting trips, and $60,000 on trips to a luxury nudist resort in Palm Springs, California, according to the DOJ.
She spent $35,000 on taxidermy expenses, ostensibly stemming from her big game hunting trips, $195,000 on her mortgage, a whopping $220,000 in cigars, and a combined $91,000 on a Cadillac and recreational vehicle expenses. She also spent $58,000 on pet boarding and veterinary costs, according to the DOJ.
Deveny pleaded guilty in June 2022 to one count each of mail, wire and bank fraud. She also pleaded guilty to money laundering, filing a false tax return, and two counts of aggravated identity theft.
She was ordered on Monday to pay more than $4.5 million in restitution to her victims.
“While serving as an attorney, Ms. Deveny brazenly stole money that should have gone to pay for health care for her clients for serious injuries and ailment,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, special agent in charge of the FBI Portland Field Office.
“Instead, that money funded things like big game hunting trips to Africa and home remodeling,” Ramsey said in a statement. “She took advantage of people who were physically and emotionally hurting by forging insurance checks, stealing the funds and lying to her clients about the payouts.”