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Former Topeka Lawyer Admits to Stealing Over $460K from Clients’ Trust Funds

Lawyers are here to safeguard our riches, but in this case, Topeka Lawyer Robert M. Telthorst admitted to stealing over $460,000 from his clients’ trust funds. Telthorst, 52, is on trial for multiple counts of fraud. So far, he has pleaded guilty for fraud and money laundering to Judge Julie Robinson. An 18-page plea agreement was drafted that summarizes that between 2005 and 2011, Telthorst ran a Ponzi scheme where he took money from his clients (over $757,000) and used it to cover his tracks of theft from the trust funds of his clients.

Telthorst is scheduled to be sentenced at 9 a.m. on February 19th, 2013. He will be spending five years behind bars, after which he will have a supervised release for three years. If he would have been found guilty on every charge he faced, he could have obtained a max sentence of 20 years in prison. Telthorst also agreed to pay $460,542 in restitution, to allow forfeiture and seizure of the funds and his property. He is also no longer allowed to be employed in the banking industry and will have to give up his law license forever.

The Kansas Board for the Discipline of Attorneys conducted an investigation that showed Telthorst transferring hundreds of thousands to bank accounts he controlled. He would then set up living trusts for his clients and opened accounts for deposits from his clients’ accounts. Bank records were shown that proved he would transfer funds from one client’s account to another client’s in order to cover shortage of funds.

Here is a list of the money he stole from his clients:

•    $22,000 from a client’s two daughters. The first daughter is to receive a lump sum of the $463,344 that he is required to pay. He diminished the account from $22,000 down to $150.
•    $30,000 from three granddaughters of a client, bringing the account from $10,000 each to less than $350.
•    $80,000 from a client’s charitable account, bringing it to less than $1,750.


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