A Portland lawyer has been sentenced to eight years in prison for defrauding clients out of $3.8million by pocketing their insurance payouts to fund extravagant trips – including stays at a Palm Springs nudist resort and an African safari.
Lori E. Deveny, 57, was also ordered to pay $4.5million in restitution to her 135 victims, after she left many of them destitute and unable to pay for medical expenses.
She was convicted on Monday of mail, bank, and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and filing a false tax return between May 2019 and April 2011.
Deveny practiced as an injury lawyer, and won millions in payouts for clients who had been in car accidents or suffered other serious injuries. The money she won was meant to provide for their healthcare treatment.
Lori E. Deveny, 57, was also ordered to pay $4.5million in restitution to her 135 victims, after leaving many destitute and unable to pay for medical expenses
In total, she stole $3.8million in insurance proceeds to ‘bankroll a lavish lifestyle,’ including $173,000 for an African safari, $50,000 for a Cadillac, and more
In total, she stole $3.8million in insurance proceeds to ‘bankroll a lavish lifestyle’ – which included spending $173,000 for an African safari, $60,000 for trips to nudist resort Desert Sun in Palm Springs, $50,000 for a Cadillac, and more, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
‘It’s hard to overstate the extraordinary impact Ms. Deveny’s crimes had on the many innocent and vulnerable victims who trusted her,’ Ethan Knight, Chief of the Economic Crimes Unit for the US Attorney’s Office, said in a statement.
Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office, said: ‘Ms. Deveny brazenly stole money that should have gone to pay for health care for her clients for serious injuries and ailments. Instead, that money funded things like big game hunting trips to Africa and home remodeling.
‘She took advantage of people who were physically and emotionally hurting by forging insurance checks, stealing the funds and lying to her clients about the payouts.’
One of her clients, who was not named, wrote in their victim impact statement said she was ‘referred to Ms. Deveny following a car accident’ and the lawyer advised her that she would ‘deal with everything.’
‘I was instructed not to answer phone calls from insurance companies, and refer anyone interested in the matter directly to her. At first this gave me ease of mind. But it soon became clear the only purpose of this was to keep me in the dark with the progress of the claim,’ she wrote, according to court documents obtained by DailyMail.com.
‘The mental impact Ms. Deveny left on me has led me to be too anxious to stand up for myself in legal situations.’
The victim, however, did not recommend prison as it would be ‘taking MORE money from people’ and suggested the court leave her to ‘go free and struggle and go hungry.’
She also spent patients’ money to go to nudist resort Desert Sun in Palm Springs, spending $60,000 there
‘This woman doesn’t deserve the slightest decency that prison will provide,’ the victim wrote. ‘I heard the Burnside Bridge provides nice shelter and life ruining substances just to say warm.’
She was referring to the bridge across the Willamette River, which serves as a shelter for many homeless and has been the site of several suicides.
Several of her victims said Deveny appeared to be the perfect lawyer, and would offer to take their medical bills off their hands and do the dirty work, but as it got closer to a payday, the lawyer would then stop contacting them or say the funds were on ‘hold.’
Another victim, Gabriella Davidson, then 18, was planning on using the insurance money to afford college tuition, but she said the money never came.
Fellow victim, Aubrey Hunter, who was in a head-on collision, also said he had to dip into his retirement funds after losing his job and said the injury lawyer was full of excuses.
Another client, Nancy Freyer, said doctors removed her big toe without her permission and had hired Deveny to represent her, but said all the lawyer did was ‘prey on me at my most painful, vulnerable time in my life.’
‘She used me,’ she said. ‘She told me I was a model client, but she failed me.’
She was convicted to eight years in prison for mail, bank, and wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, money laundering, and filing a false tax return between April 2011 to May 2019
Deveny intends to forfeit her $1million home in Portland, to help pay the restitution, her lawyer said
Due to her crimes, several institutions had to pay partial restitution. The Oregon State Bar Client Security Fund (CSF) paid Deveny’s victims $1.2million – one of the largest losses for the Oregon State Bar in its history, according to the DOJ. Wells Fargo Bank also lost $52,000 because of a forged check and the IRS sustain tax losses of more than $621,000 when she failed to report the money she stole from clients.
Among the millions she stole from her customers, Deveny spent $150,000 on domestic and foreign airline tickets, $35,000 on taxidermy expenses, $58,000 on pet boarding and veterinary cost, $125,000 on home renovations, $195,000 on mortgage payment, and $220,000 on cigars.
US District Judge Michael W. Mosman called the lawyer’s actions ‘calculating and predatory than desperate.’ He also said he believed her downfall stemmed from her husband’s suicide in 2018.
Her defense lawyer tried to place the blame on Deveny’s ‘controlling husband’, who was 16 years older than her and said he made her do things she never would have done.
Deveny intends to forfeit her $1million home in Portland, to help pay the restitution, her lawyer said.
The lawyer apologized to her victims in court on Monday, saying: ‘If I could go back, I would choose a different path.’