Former San Antonio Lawyer Gets Six Years in Prison for Scamming Clients With Fake Court Rulings
A former San Antonio lawyer will be spending the next six years of his life in prison after federal investigators alleged that he created fake Texas court rulings to dupe a pair of clients into believing he’d won their case and converted another client’s $2.4 million trust fund for his own personal use.
Todd Prins, who pled guilty last year and later resigned his law license in lieu of discipline, was handed his sentence today by Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra. In addition to the prison term, Ezra also ordered that Prins pay $2.9 million in restitution and be placed on supervised release for a period of three years after leaving prison.
According to his June 2017 indictment, Prins represented two plaintiffs in civil litigation but placed the case in abatement without their knowledge. Prins later told the clients he’d been successful in their case. To prove it, he emailed them forged rulings from a Bexar County District Court, the Texas Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, complete with faked signatures of various judges, the indictment alleges.
Prins later sent invoices for his legal services to the clients, billing them for winning the fake rulings. Prins later filed for personal bankruptcy and issued the clients a $1.6 million promissory note, which he falsely claimed to be settlement proceeds from their lawsuit, it adds.
The indictment also alleged Prins deposited $2.4 million intended for a real estate foreclosure sale into a client’s Interest on Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA). But Prins later shifted $2 million of that money into his own law office account—$800,000 of which he converted for his own personal use.
“Ordinary Texans often put their trust in lawyers to help them navigate complex legal disputes. When a lawyer abuses that trust for personal gain, it undermines the integrity of our legal system. The misconduct in this case was simply outrageous, and the six-year sentence was amply deserved,” said John Bash, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas.
Don Flanary, a San Antonio attorney who represents Prins, said the former lawyer will be allowed to surrender himself to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons next month.
“He’s glad to finally have a resolution made by the court so that he can begin his sentence. He accepted responsibility for his actions over a year ago and now he can start fulfilling his debt,” Flanary said. “The sentence was a fair result. He’s sorry and is quite remorseful for the pain that he’s caused his family and others.’’