Santa Rosa Attorneys Charged with Stealing from Client
SAN FRANCISCO—Robert Anderson was arraigned today and Scott Steever was arraigned yesterday on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag, Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.
A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted Anderson and Steever on December 18, 2014, each on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, six counts of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering. According to the Indictment Anderson and Steever, who were both partners at the law firm Lanahan Steever and Anderson LLP (LSA), formerly known as Lanahan & Reilly LLP, in Santa Rosa, Calif., spent money held in a trust account for a client, identified in the Indictment as B.M., and used the money to pay expenses that were not related to B.M.’s representation. According to the Indictment, in November 2009, B.M. gave LSA approximately $300,000 to be held in trust on her behalf. Some of the money was intended to be used for outstanding legal issues and the remaining balance was to be returned to her. Shortly after the check was deposited, Anderson and Steever, and LSA employees acting at the defendants’ direction, began spending B.M.’s funds without authorization on expenses unrelated to the representation of B.M. By April 2010, all of the funds held on behalf of B.M. had been spent. In March 2012, after an attorney acting on behalf of B.M. asked for an accounting of the money remaining in the account for the benefit of B.M, Anderson sent B.M.’s attorney an e-mail in which he falsely represented that, as of February 2012, B.M. had a remaining trust balance of approximately $252,511.55.
Anderson, of Redwood Valley, Calif. voluntarily surrendered and made his initial appearance today in federal court in San Francisco. Steever, of Rohnert Park, Calif. was arrested and made his initial appearance yesterday in federal court in San Francisco. Anderson and Steever were each released on a $100,000 bond. Anderson and Steever are scheduled for an initial appearance before the Honorable Edward M. Chen, U.S. District Court Judge, 2:30 p.m. on February 4, 2015.
An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 and 18 U.S.C. § 1343, respectively, is 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) and 18 U.S.C. § 1957, respectively, is 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.
Denise Marie Barton is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Denise Oki and Trina Khadoo. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation.