A former San Antonio lawyer has pleaded guilty to wire fraud after federal investigators alleged he created fake Texas court rulings to dupe a pair of clients into believing he’d won their case and converted some of another client’s $2.4 million trust fund for his own personal use.
Todd Prins plead guilty to a single count of wire fraud before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Primomo on June 28. Prins—who resigned his law license March 7 in lieu of discipline, according to the State Bar of Texas—will be sentenced before Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra on Sept. 18.
According to his June 7 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.
Separately, Prins is alleged to have 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, the indictment alleges.
Prins then emailed and texted parties in the real estate transaction what appeared to be a screenshot of IOLTA account, showing a balance of over $3 million, when in reality it contained only $1,000, according to the indictment.
Don Flanary, a San Antonio attorney who represents Prins, said the former lawyer is taking responsibility for his actions and is now working a retail job to pay back the people that he owes.
“He’s not going to be making any excuses. He was in a bad place, he shouldn’t have done it and he’s paying the price,” Flanary said. “He’s not a lawyer anymore and he’s probably going to jail. He’s going to have to pay the money back and he’s taking responsibility because that’s what people have to do.”