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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ind. Law - "Kokomo attorney's practice wiped out from within"

Pat Munsey had this Feb. 6th story in the Kokomo Perspective. Some quotes from the long, must-read story:

Michael Krebes has been an attorney, a prosecutor, and a judge. Now he’s a victim.

The lawyer discovered late last year that tens of thousands of dollars had been siphoned out of his private practice, allegedly by his secretary, Lacee Garber. Now he’s working to repay every client who was harmed in the process, no matter how long it takes.

“It came to my attention at the beginning of December,” said Krebes. “The following week, when I got to the office, what I had feared turned out to be much worse. On Dec. 13, I changed the locks on the office and fired her. I couldn’t take chances of her having access to the office to destroy records. She had the garage door opener to my house, so I had to lock the kitchen door to the garage to make sure she didn’t get into my house where I had files.”

The following week, Krebes went to KPD and opened a case report. The detective was given the business’ bank records. Krebes posted his cell phone number on the door of his office, “and the floodgates opened.”

“I started meeting with clients, and it got progressively worse,” he said. “I heard from clients who had paid for bankruptcies that had never been filed. They came into the office and told me I wouldn’t know anything about it. They at least suspected a problem before I did.”

Krebes indicated that more than 40 of his clients had been victimized between 2011 and 2013. Some paid for representation and received none. Others who had entrusted money to the attorney found that the trust fund had been raided. He estimates that as much as $80,000 was removed from the business without his knowledge and permission. His personal finances also were affected.

The attorney was devastated. As he explained, Garber was more than just an employee to him; he considered her family. * * *

Howard County Prosecutor Mark McCann confirmed that he expected a request for charges against Garber from the Kokomo Police Department, and upon receipt, he will assign a special prosecutor to the case. The need for outside counsel stems from the fact that Garber was an employee of the prosecutor’s office for a number of years.

Krebes professional future is filled with questions. While he has been retained as a deputy prosecutor for Howard County, his private practice is all but ruined. He expects that the U.S. Trustee will bar him from ever handling a bankruptcy case, and he may face disciplinary action from the state.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 13, 2014 04:34 PM
Posted to Indiana Law