A suspended Louisville personal injury lawyer who settled cases worth over $400,000 for about a dozen clients and spent the money on himself has pleaded guilty to federal fraud and tax charges.
Andrew Clooney and his wife Christel Clooney pleaded guilty Monday to wire fraud and willful failure to pay before U.S. District Judge David J. Hale.
The victims were mostly Hispanic. Attorney Alex White, who represented many of them in lawsuits to recover their settlements, said previously that Clooney targeted people with poor English skills so their complaints wouldn’t be believed or chalked up to a misunderstanding.
“They were very vulnerable,” White said at the time.
Clooney’s lawyer, Timothy Denison, said he would not comment until his client is sentenced.
Clooney and his wife are scheduled to be sentenced Sept 14. The maximum penalty for the fraud charge is 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The tax charge is punishable by up to one year in priosn and a fine of up to $25,000. The actual sentences and fines will likely be far less under federal sentencing guidelines and the couple’s plea agreement.
Clooney was suspended in 2019 and is listed as a former lawyer by the Kentucky Bar Association.
Ironically, his father, Ray Clooney, who died in 2017, was the bar association’s chief disciplinary counsel.
The federal information charging the Clooneys said Andrew negotiated settlements with insurance companies to settle injury claims and deposited the money in the law firm’s account without telling the clients.
Then the couple withdrew the victims’ money and spent it on themselves.
They received taxable income of $426,098