Local Attorney Who Fled the United States Sentenced on Multiple Federal Fraud Charges
ST. LOUIS, MO—St. Charles County attorney JEFFREY WITT was sentenced to forty-four (44) month’s imprisonment and five (5) years’ supervised release following his term of imprisonment, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $234,472.33 on charges of falsifying documents to obtain a bank loan secured by a St. Louis County home, which did not actually belong to him, using an associate to impersonate the true home owner at the bank loan closing and cashing legal client settlement checks without their knowledge.
According to court documents and statements made in court, during September 2013, Witt submitted a loan application in the name of his mother in order to obtain a $100,000 line of credit secured by his mother’s St. Louis-area residence. His mother was unaware of Witt’s loan application. Witt provided a female associate with his mother’s driver’s license, which he had stolen from his mother, along with other false documentation so the associate could impersonate his mother during the loan closing at the bank. Together they were able to obtain the $100,000 bank loan credit line. Witt immediately drew out $60,000 from the credit line, which he deposited into his law firm bank account and then withdrew for personal purposes. Subsequent to the loan closing, Witt’s mother learned of Witt’s action and confronted him. In order to conceal the scheme, Witt falsely represented to his mother that he had cancelled the loan. To convince his mother, Witt created a false letter on fake bank letterhead, forged the signature of a bank officer and created a false “Deed of Release,” all of which purportedly released the Deed of Trust on his mother’s home securing the fraudulent loan.
Additionally, as part of his law practice, Witt would enter into settlement discussions on behalf of one and more of his legal clients. Several times, without the knowledge of many of his clients, Witt settled their legal cases, accepted settlement checks on their behalf and forged their signatures on their settlement checks. Witt deposited the clients’ checks into his law firm bank account and spent those funds on his own personal expenses and business expenses unrelated to those clients without their knowledge. Further, and in order to conceal his scheme, Witt falsely represented to his clients that he had neither settled their cases nor received settlement checks.
Witt also looted a client’s family trust of more than $100,000 over which he had been made Trustee.
During October, 2013, aware of the ongoing federal criminal investigation, Witt fled the United States, traveling to the Philippines, Australia, Jordan, England and Turkey. Due to the efforts of federal and international law enforcement in tracking Witt, on March 7, 2014, Witt was arrested as he arrived at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City on an inbound flight from Istanbul, Turkey. Witt planned to spend the weekend in New York City and then return to Istanbul on the return airplane ticket recovered from Witt by federal agents upon Witt’s arrest.
Witt, St. Charles, MO, pled guilty in July to one felony count of bank fraud, one felony count of aggravated identity theft and one felony count of mail fraud. He appeared today for sentencing before United States District Judge E. Richard Webber.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.