Friday, March 20, 2015

Lawyer Faces Charges For Allegedly Pocketing $500K+ In Client Cash From Attorney Trust Account & Blowing The Loot Gambling; Victims Include Divorced Couple Screwed Out Of $147K Proceeds From Sale Of Former Marital Home, Dead Client's Estate, Heirs

In Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, The Patriot News reports:
  • Carlisle attorney Karl Rominger misappropriated more than $535,000 of his client's money for personal use and for gambling at casinos, Cumberland County investigators claim in criminal charges filed Friday.(1)

    Even as he filed the counts, Les Freehling, the county's chief detective, said the investigation into Rominger hasn't ended and that more charges likely will be lodged.

    "I apologize to everybody that I wronged," Rominger said when contacted concerning his arrest. "I look forward to accepting the consequences and putting this behind me, while making restitution."

    He said he hasn't gambled since last March. His lawyer, William C. Costopoulos, declined further comment on the case.

    The 25 theft and fund misappropriation charges already lodged in the case come more than a year after Rominger, whose clients have included Jerry Sandusky, came under investigation by the Cumberland County District Attorney's Office.

    The state Supreme Court accepted Rominger's voluntary surrender of his law license last spring. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on the criminal case in April before Carlisle District Judge Jessica Brewbaker.

    Meanwhile, the 41-year-old Rominger remains free on $250,000 unsecured bail.

    In arrest papers, Freehling said the alleged thefts came to light in late January 2014 as a result of financial irregularities in a divorce case where Rominger represented one of the splitting spouses. Rominger had failed to turn over $147,883 from the sale of the marital home, the detective said.

    Costopoulos then provided information, which Rominger later confirmed, that about $800,000 of client money was missing from a bank account Rominger was legally required to maintain to hold such funds, Freehling wrote.

    He said the misappropriations cited in the newly-filed criminal case involve money due to an auto accident victim from a settlement, the money owed to the divorced couple, and funds due to the survivors of a woman whose estate Rominger represented. That tally comes to $535,135, the detective wrote.

    "It should further be noted that this investigation will be considered ongoing, with additional charges to be forthcoming," Freehling wrote in boldfaced italic at the end of the affidavit of probable cause. The "disarray" of Rominger's financial records have made the accounting of other potential losses difficult, he said.

    District Attorney David Freed said investigators are still working with a forensic accountant as they pore over Rominger's financial records. "In these large white collar thefts it requires not only proving money is missing, but also tracing where it went," Freed said.

    He said investigators still don't have complete access to all of Rominger's files because for some of them claims of attorney-client privilege have been raised. "There is at least one other substantial situation we are looking at, and perhaps more," Freed said.

    In addition to the Sandusky child-sex case, where he was second chair at the defense table, Rominger has been involved in an array of high-profile local and statewide cases, including murders. He also provided legal advice on a local radio station.
Source: Sandusky lawyer Karl Rominger stole $535K, used clients' money to gamble at casinos, detective says.

(1) The Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security was established to to reimburse victims of attorney dishonesty in the practice of law; to preserve the integrity and protect the good name of the legal profession; and to promote public confidence in the legal system and the administration of justice in Pennsylvania.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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