A Wisconsin estate planning attorney who faced 33 federal charges stemming from fraudulent activity and stealing her wealthy clients’ money has reached a deal and will plead guilty to five of the charges.
Wisconsin attorney Sarah E.K. Laux ran two businesses. The first business was an estate planning service where she targeted wealthy clients through free seminars and lunches. The second business purported to be an insurance agency.
For several years, there were complaints that her estate plans were not very effective. However, it was the alleged theft of nearly $3 million that landed her in trouble with federal investigators. Two of her wealthy clients claimed that she converted their money for her own personal use.
Apparently, she would convince her elderly clients to transfer their money to her so she could invest in annuities supposedly offered by her insurance business. However, she spent the money on herself. Laux was indicted on 33 charges and has agree to plead guilty to five of them, one count each of bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return.
The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported this story in “Estate planning lawyer facing prison in fraud plea deal.”
While the overwhelming majority of estate planning attorneys are honest and work in their clients’ best interests, there are bad apples such as Laux that people need to watch out for.
One big clue that Laux was not on the up and up that her clients missed was that she was also running an insurance company and asking her clients to invest with it. It is always advisable to seek a second opinion if an attorney requests that you invest in a business he or she owns. The attorney cannot give you unbiased legal advice about investing in her own business.
Reference: Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel (September 27, 2015) “Estate planning lawyer facing prison in fraud plea deal.”