Casey Anthony's former attorney, Todd Macaluso, was sentenced to five months in federal prison for fraud.
Macaluso’s defense of the high-profile Florida mother, who was acquitted of her 2-year-old daughter's death in 2011, helped put the national spotlight on the attorney, who also had a personal injury law practice in Rancho Santa Fe, California.
In federal court Monday, Macaluso apologized for defrauding clients by forging their signatures to obtain millions of dollars from investors.
"I accept full responsibility," Macaluso told U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez.
Macaluso pleaded guilty in March to a single count of wire fraud.
Prosecutors said Macaluso used the future value of his clients’ cases as collateral for payments he received from investors and didn’t tell his clients he’d essentially "sold" their cases.
Macaluso also forged his clients’ signatures and used forged notary stamps to persuade investors to lend him millions of dollars, according to prosecutors.
"Macaluso’s clients were stabbed in the back by the lawyer who was supposed to have their back," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said in a statement. "Today there is a modicum of justice for them."
In addition to serving five months in federal prison, Macaluso must pay a $100,000 fine and $150,000 in restitution payments.
Macaluso’s attorney, John Kirby, argued nothing would be accomplished by sending his client to prison. Kirby told Judge Benitez Macaluso "needs to be out of custody to earn money (to support) his family" and pay back his victims and other creditors.
Kirby said a lengthy term of home confinement would be a more suitable punishment for Macaluso, who cannot practice law for at least five years.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Conover said prison time is the appropriate punishment for the 53-year-old and would send a message to other attorneys and professionals that criminal behavior will not be tolerated.
Federal guidelines put Macaluso’s sentence between 10 and 16 months.
Judge Benitez also ordered Macaluso to serve three years on probation after his release from prison. Macaluso will be allowed to spend the holidays with his family.
He was ordered to report to federal prison by 5 p.m. Jan. 8.