Miami Attorney Pleads Guilty To Mail Fraud For Misappropriating $13.5 Million In Client Settlement Money

LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – R. Alexander Acosta, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and Jonathan I. Solomon, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced today that Louis S. Robles has pled guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Alan S. Gold to three (3) counts of mail fraud in connection with his misappropriation of $13.5 million of settlement monies from clients afflicted with asbestos-related injuries and illnesses. Robles, who is 59 years-old, faces a 15-year maximum term of imprisonment as a result of today’s guilty plea.

Robles is 59 years’ old. Sentencing is set before Judge Gold on December 4, 2007, at 4:30p.m.

According to the written statement of facts filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in connection with Robles’s guilty plea, Robles was a Miami-based lawyer who represented clients who suffered from asbestos-related illness or injuries in lawsuits against companies that manufactured, distributed, or used asbestos. From the late 1980s through February 2003 Robles represented more than 7,000 asbestos clients. Starting as early as at least April 1994, Robles misappropriated settlement proceeds from trust accounts that he maintained on behalf of his asbestos clients.

According to the written statement of facts, Robles defrauded his asbestos clients through a pyramid-type scheme. Asbestos clients from whom Robles would misappropriate settlement proceeds would not be paid until after Robles misappropriated settlement proceeds from other clients. Because of Robles’s continuing misappropriation of asbestos client funds, his asbestos clients experienced ever-increasing delays in receiving settlement proceeds, as Robles defrauded them of ever-increasing sums. By March 1996, Robles had misappropriated approximately $3 million in asbestos client settlement proceeds. By September 30, 2002, the total had grown to $13,522,159.92, which represents the sum that Robles siphoned from a total of 4,393 defrauded clients. In an attempt to stem off complaints from his defrauded asbestos clients, Robles sent out newsletters that falsely claimed that he was withholding settlement proceeds until the various clients’ suits were settled against all asbestos defendants who had been sued on behalf of the clients.

The written statement of facts added that Robles used the misappropriated funds for purposes that included financing his personal lifestyle expenses. These included supporting his 9,000 square-foot waterfront home on Key Biscayne, Florida, that carried a monthly mortgage of over $48,000. Robles also paid substantial sums for domestic help and other household expenses and improvements on the property. At different times during the fraud scheme, Robles and his then-wife were spending over $2 million dollars annually in mortgage payments and various living and travel expenses. Robles also invested and lost millions of dollars in various start-up ventures in the motion picture business, the recording business, and the waste management and recycling business.

As part of the plea agreement, Robles agreed to consent to: (1) an order requiring him to pay $13,522,159.92 in restitution to the victims of his offenses; (2) forfeiture of approximately $1 million in funds previously frozen by Court order.

United States Attorney R. Alexander Acosta stated, “Louis Robles abused the special trust that his clients placed in him by cheating them out of millions of dollars. When lawyers or other professionals defraud those who depend upon their honesty, federal law enforcement is prepared to respond.”

Mr. Acosta commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Mr. Acosta also expressed appreciation for the assistance of the Florida Bar. The FBI’s investigation was launched following a referral from the Florida Bar that stemmed from its investigation into Robles’s billing practices. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Michael S. Davis, Luis M. Pérez, and Charles E. Duross, with the assistance of Financial Auditor Harold Weiss, also of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at . Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at or on .

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