Personal injury lawyer accused of grand theft | Crime, Crashes and Fires
A own harm attorney accused of thieving a lot more than $840,000 from shoppers was arrested Feb. 27 by Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri declared in a information meeting.
Christopher Michael Reynolds, 44, of Pinellas Park, opened his personal practice in Seminole in 2015 and mostly represented purchasers wounded in motor vehicle crashes. In accordance to Gualtieri, at minimum 16 consumers experienced their instances settled, then had their dollars stolen by Reynolds.
In accordance to information provided by the sheriff’s business office, the initially recognised instance of Reynolds thieving cash from consumers was in December 2018.
When consumers initially retained Reynolds as their law firm, he continually responded to any questions or problems they experienced, Gualtieri explained. But around time, Reynolds’ responses to customers grew to become infrequent and ultimately stopped totally. Some clients would then simply call their insurance policy organizations due to increasing medical costs. Their insurance coverage companies would tell them their scenarios had been settled.
The sheriff’s business initially uncovered of the allegations last October, when just one of Reynolds’ purchasers reported that her coverage organization informed her that her lawsuit had been settled months previously for $100,000, Gualtieri claimed. But the woman stated she hadn’t been given the money.
Investigators figured out that Reynolds had cast the woman’s identify on lawful paperwork and gathered the settlement income, in accordance to the sheriff’s workplace, but he did not use it to fork out her health care costs.
Gualtieri said a lien was submitted towards an additional a single of Reynolds’ consumers when they could not spend their health care payments. The finest way for the customers to get their dollars again, he claimed, would be for Reynolds to be ordered to shell out retribution at the conclusion of his court docket scenario. But the sheriff said it could consider a long time for that to occur.
“He had a fairly good issue likely,” Gualtieri mentioned of the thefts.
Reynolds pocketed as much as $148,750 from 1 customer in March 2019, according to facts presented by the sheriff’s office. He took at the very least $100,000 each individual from many shoppers. Gualtieri mentioned the purchasers have to have experienced really serious accidents in order to get six-determine settlements.
It is considered Reynolds utilised some of the money he stole to buy medicines, Gualtieri explained. He also claimed Reynolds put in a lot more than $30,000 on the grownup content material membership web-site OnlyFans, pretty much $400,000 on the digital payment system PayPal and much more than $24,000 on the trip-sharing app Uber.
Gualtieri reported the sheriff’s office environment thinks there probable are more customers whose revenue was stolen by Reynolds. He claimed Reynolds typically experienced conferences with his purchasers, who ranged in age from youthful to more mature persons, at bars.
Reynolds was suspended by the Florida Supreme Courtroom in December 2022 as a result of the allegations, court records demonstrate. A summary of the suspension order posted on the Florida Bar’s internet site states Reynolds “abandoned his regulation exercise with no observe.”
Gualtieri stated the Florida Bar previously had started investigating claims built towards Reynolds before the sheriff’s business office gained its very first complaint in October 2022.
That exact same month, Reynolds posted a image taken in Asheville, North Carolina, on his company Fb web site. Quite a few of the responses on the submit had been prepared by users boasting that Reynolds stole income from them.
Reynolds was booked into Pinellas County Jail on Feb. 27. Jail data demonstrate Reynolds faces 13 counts of grand theft, including just one rely of grand theft from a particular person 65 yrs of age or more mature. He also faces two counts of cash laundering.
He was held in lieu of $395,000 bail, according to jail data.
Asked if Reynolds was cooperating with deputies, Gualtieri claimed Reynolds “lawyered up” on his arrest.