(WIBW) - A Topeka lawyer is charged with stealing almost a half-million dollars from clients' trust funds.
52-year-old Robert Telthorst faces one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering. Federal prosecutors say that from November 2005 thru August 2011, Telthorst concocted a Ponzi scheme, taking client's money and using money from other client's trust accounts to cover up the thefts.
The indictment details three clients, with losses totaling more than $460,000.
If convicted, Telthorst faces up to 20 years in prison on each count, plus fines up to a half-million dollars.
Telthorst voluntarily surrendered his law license last year.
From the U.S. Attorney's Office:
The list of clients he allegedly defrauded includes the following:
-- The daughters of a man identified in court documents as Otto K. After the man's death, Telthorst was appointed to administer $463,344 for the man's two daughters. The man wanted the first daughter, identified as Sheri T., to receive a lump sum. Money for the second daughter, identified as Marlene O., was to be invested, with monthly payments to be made to her. Before providing the lump sum to Sheri T., Telthorst took approximately $22,000 for his own benefit. In the trust for Marlene O, the balance dropped from more than $208,500 to less than $150 after Telthorst removed most of the funds for his own benefit.
-- The granddaughters of a client, identified as Mia, Olivia and Lillian. Telthorst set up three educational gift trusts of $10,000 each. He depleted all three trusts, leaving them each with balances of less than $350.
-- Arnold and Bertha J., who established a charitable trust of $80,000 for the KU School of Business. The balance in the account dropped to less than $1,750 after Telthorst diverted funds to his own benefit.