Disbarred attorney pleads guilty to defrauding investors, clients of more than $1M
SAN DIEGO — A disbarred attorney from La Mesa pleaded guilty Tuesday to defrauding law firm investors and clients out of more than $1 million over a nine-year period.
Clayton Marlow Anderson Jr. also admitted to money laundering in connection with his fraud scheme, known alternatively as the “Clayton M. Anderson Monthly Income Plan,” “Anderson Plan,” or “A-Plan.”
During a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Crawford, Anderson acknowledged that he created “A-Plan” to solicit loans to finance the costs and fees related to construction defect lawsuits brought by his law firm.
Anderson admitted that between 2005 and 2014, he solicited unsecured loans from six individuals and paid them high rates of interest between 8 percent and 13 percent each year.
In 2010, owners of the Jefferson Pointe Professional Corp. hired Anderson to represent them in a construction defect lawsuit against the builders of their office park in Murrieta, and he eventually negotiated a $1.82 million settlement for JPPC in October 2012. But instead of paying his clients their rightful share of the legal settlement, Anderson sent them a letter of behalf of “A-Plan Investment Services Inc.,” promising JPPC a 13 percent annual return on their “investment,” according to court papers.
Anderson admitted that his letter contained multiple false claims, including that A-Plan was the beneficiary of a $4.4 million insurance policy on his life. He conceded that his clients invested $800,000 of their legal settlement into “A-Plan” in reliance on his false claims, and that he engaged in other fraudulent conduct toward his clients.
Anderson specifically admitted that on Feb. 19, 2013, he made a $182,549 bank transfer to conceal that he had already taken his client’s settlement money out of his client trust account without consent, and to hide from his clients the precarious financial situation of both his law firm and “A-Plan.”
Anderson also admitted that his fraud caused his clients to lose more than $600,000, and that the six other A-Plan participants lost more than $700,000 in money loaned to him.
“As an attorney, Anderson had a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard his client’s money. Anderson violated his ethical duty by treating his clients’ trust account as a piggy bank,” said R. Damon Rowe, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division.