Attorney Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Clients and Investors
SAN DIEGO—San Diego attorney Todd Macaluso, whose practice included representing plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits, pleaded guilty today to defrauding his clients and investors by entering into funding agreements that put his clients’ personal injury cases up as collateral without their knowledge or consent. As part of his guilty plea, Macaluso admitted that he forged the signatures of his clients, and used forged notary stamps and signatures, in order to convince potential investors to advance him millions of dollars.
According to court records, Macaluso funded his personal injury law practice by entering into “funding agreements” with various investors. Under these agreements, investors advanced Macaluso money in exchange for the right to collect a portion of his clients’ recoveries in the future. Although clients had to consent to the collateralization of their lawsuits in order for these transfers to be valid, Macaluso concealed these arrangements from many of his clients and forged their signatures on the financing documents. To conceal his scheme, Macaluso also forged the signatures and stamps of notary publics who purportedly witnessed the executions of these legal documents, but who (like his client) had no knowledge of the arrangements.
United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy commented, “Individuals who have suffered a personal injury should not have to worry about being victimized by their own advocate. The defendant’s conviction should be a stark reminder that attorneys and other fiduciaries will be prosecuted if they fraudulently misuse the privileges society has given them.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum commented, “Mr. Macaluso betrayed his clients’ trust by putting his clients’ personal injury recoveries on the hook without their knowledge or consent. The FBI is committed to maintaining the integrity of our justice system by aggressively investigating those individuals that violate their fiduciary responsibilities through fraudulent schemes that victimize the American public.”
Macaluso is scheduled to be sentenced on July 13, 2015, at 9:00 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez, at which time he will be ordered to pay restitution to all of his victims.
- TODD E. MACALUSO
- Age: 52
- Rancho Santa Fe, California
- Case Number: 15cr0948-BEN
SUMMARY OF CHARGE
Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343—Wire Fraud. Maximum penalties: 20 years in prison, $250,000 fine, term of supervised release of three years, restitution, forfeiture, and $100 special assessment.
Federal Bureau of Investigation