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Former Memphis attorney pleads guilty to scheme to defraud clients

Michael Skouteris was indicted in August, 2019 for engaging in a scheme to defraud his clients by settling cases without notifying them.
Credit: Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Former Memphis attorney Michael Constantine Skouteris, age 50, entered a guilty plea to a charge of bank fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud clients. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant for the Western District of Tennessee announced the guilty plea Tuesday.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Skouteris in August 2019, alleging that between 2011 and January 2016, Skouteris engaged in a scheme to defraud his clients by settling cases without notifying his clients and forging their endorsements on the settlement checks made jointly payable to him and the client. The indictment alleged that Skouteris then deposited the checks to bank accounts he maintained at Suntrust Bank and First Tennessee Bank. According to the indictment, Skouteris fraudulently obtained in excess of $600,000 during the course of the scheme.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "Licensed attorneys who steal from their clients betray the trust of that fiduciary relationship, and are a threat to the public. This guilty plea holds Skouteris accountable for that breach of trust, and will hopefully achieve justice by recovering restitution for the victims and reminding the legal community of the high standards of their profession."

A sentencing hearing is currently set for September 24, 2020, before United States District Judge Mark S. Norris. Skouteris faces a maximum penalty of up to 30 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000,000, and five years supervised release.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Carroll L. André III is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.