A lawyer who stole nearly $4 million by “settling” personal injury cases without the knowledge of his injured clients was sentenced today to 11 years in jail. Stephen T. Conrad, 40, of Woodbridge, also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton to serve three years supervised release and to pay restitution to his victims.
The disclosure of Conrad’s case last year quashed opposition to a proposal to require insurers to notify claimants when sending settlement checks to the claimants’ attorneys. That proposal is under active consideration by policymakers at the Virginia State Bar.
Conrad was accused in court documents of agreeing to settle his clients’ tort and workers compensation claims without the clients’ authority or knowledge. He forged the clients’ signatures on release forms provided to the insurance companies and then pocketed the proceeds. He would tell the clients that the claims were ongoing.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a news release that many of the mishandled claims involved serious inuries, “including spinal injuries, facial fractures, and, in at least one case, a leg injury that required amputation.”
Officials said they identified 255 victims of Conrad’s larceny, including his clients, insurance companies, and medical providers. The total amount involved was $3,973,112, according to the prosecutor’s office.
By Peter Vieth