A prominent San Diego personal injury attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to defrauding clients, forging their signatures to gain millions of dollars from investors, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Todd Macaluso, 52 -- a lead player in personal injury, plaintiff’s and aviation law -- once helped represent high-profile defendant Casey Anthony, a Florida mother acquitted in her 2-year-old daughter’s death.
Now, he has admitted in his plea deal to bankrolling his law practice through “funding agreements” with investors.
Under the plan, Macaluso would offer them the right to collect part of his clients’ future recoveries if they advanced him money.
However, his clients did not know about these deals. The U.S. attorney’s office says Macaluso forged their signatures on financing documents instead of telling them about the agreements.
To make it seem legitimate, the defendant then forged stamps and signatures from notary publics who should have witnessed the documents’ signings, according to prosecutors.
“Individuals who have suffered a personal injury should not have to worry about being victimized by their own advocate,” said U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy in a statement. “The defendant’s conviction should be a stark reminder that attorneys and other fiduciaries will be prosecuted if they fraudulently misuse the privileges society has given them.”
Macaluso is scheduled to be sentenced on July 13. He faces 20 years in prison and will be ordered to pay restitution to his victims.