LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Law enforcement authorities are discussing whether to investigate allegations that suspended probate lawyer Robert Graham stole millions of dollars from clients before abruptly abandoning his law practice, District Attorney Steve Wolfson said Monday.
“I personally spoke with the sheriff today, and I can tell you that both his agency in collaboration with my office are on it,” Wolfson said. “We are in the beginning stages of determining whether a criminal investigation is warranted.”
Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said the FBI and Nevada attorney general’s office also are involved in the discussions.
“We’re going through the process of determining who has the appropriate jurisdiction for the investigation and prosecution,” McMahill said. “We have to determine what crimes have been committed.”
Las Vegas police conducted some interviews last week.
Attorney Michael Kling, who represents a former Graham client owed more than $1 million in an estate case, confirmed Monday that he and the potential victim spoke with detectives last week about Graham’s failure to turn over the money despite a court order.
Joseph Kistler, another lawyer working to recoup $1 million for the estate of Michael Macknin, obtained a court order on Friday to freeze eight financial accounts in which Graham and his Lawyers West law firm held client funds.
The order, signed by District Judge Gloria Sturman, prohibits both Graham and his wife Linda Graham, who is also an attorney, from disbursing funds in the accounts.
Kistler said Monday that he also was interviewed by police last week.
In court papers, Kistler alleged that Graham last month circulated a phony bank statement purporting to show that he had enough money in a trust account to cover the $1 million payment to the Macknin estate.
But Graham ignored a Nov. 17 order by Sturman to hand over the money, court documents show.
Kistler also said in his papers that he was concerned that Linda Graham may have access to the assets of her husband’s clients and “may be working in concert with Graham and against the interests of Mr. Graham’s clients.”
The State Bar of Nevada alleged in a complaint last week that her husband stole millions of dollars in client funds before closing Lawyers West on Dec. 2, leaving employees without jobs and abandoning client files in a rented Summerlin office. The firm, which was about to be evicted, also had offices in Utah and Colorado.
An initial bar analysis of Graham’s bank records shows that his law practice should be holding more than $13 million in funds for clients. But the balances in his accounts are “much less” than that, Assistant Bar Counsel Janeen Isaacson wrote in the complaint last week.
In court documents obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Isaacson said the $13 million figure is likely to grow because the bar has examined only about half of Graham’s more than 100 cases.
Attorneys Jasen and Brandi Cassady, who were appointed to take over Graham’s cases, set up a GoFundMe web page over the weekend to raise money nationwide for Graham’s former clients.
Jasen Cassady said on the website that less than $200,000 remains in Graham’s client trust account, but Isaacson disclosed in her complaint that Graham kept an undisclosed amount of client money in other banking and investment accounts.
The Nevada Supreme Court on Friday temporarily suspended Graham’s license while the state bar conducts disciplinary proceedings.
The bar complaint alleges that Graham, who has been practicing law in Nevada since 1992, “misappropriated millions of dollars from his current and former trust, probate and estate clients.”
Graham had “routinely and consistently” failed to distribute funds being held for clients and lied to them about the status of their funds, the complaint alleges.
The firm’s financial failings surfaced in September when American Express Bank filed a lawsuit against Graham seeking to recover more than $150,000 in unpaid charges to his “business platinum card.” The charges stemmed from a June 6 statement.
Attorney P. Sterling Kerr, who is representing Graham in the state bar proceedings, said over the weekend that Graham is in Las Vegas and poses no flight risk.
Efforts to reach Graham and his wife have been unsuccessful.
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Authorities consider criminal investigation of suspended Las Vegas attorney