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Former Portland lawyer sentenced to 8 years in federal prison for embezzling from clients

Lori Deveny defrauded at least 135 clients out of more than $4.5 million, according to court documents.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A federal judge has sentenced former Portland lawyer Lori Deveny to eight years in prison and ordered her to pay $4.5 million in restitution. Prosecutors argued Deveny stole millions of dollars from her clients, many of whom suffered traumatic head injuries.

“If I could go back, I would choose a different path,” said Deveny, who apologized to her victims during Monday’s sentencing hearing.   

Deveny, who surrendered her law license in Oregon in May 2018, previously pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering and filing a false tax return.

Court papers described how Deveny used the money embezzled from her clients to pay for big game hunting trips to Africa, along with other vacations, remodeling her home and expensive cigars.

Prosecutors alleged that Deveny stole from her clients by cashing their settlement checks from insurers.  

“She systematically robbed her victims — not with a gun and mask but pen and law license,” said Claire Fay, Assistant U.S. Attorney for Oregon during Monday’s sentencing.

According to court documents, Deveny defrauded at least 135 clients out of more than $4.5 million.

As a result of the case, the Oregon State Bar raised its cap on how much victims of a dishonest lawyer can claim from the bar’s client security fund. Additionally, state lawmakers passed legislation that requires insurance companies notify beneficiaries when they send settlement checks so the client will know money is available at the same time as the lawyer.

Deveny will be sentenced on similar state charges on Jan. 26.

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