A disbarred Marietta lawyer has been sentenced to almost six years in federal prison for stealing the identities of his clients to secure more than $400,000 in illegal loans.
Chalmer “Chuck” Detling II, 46, was convicted in November of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. On Feb. 10, U.S. District Judge Leigh May sentenced him to 5 years and 10 months in prison and ordered him to pay $254,837 in restitution.
“Detling betrayed the trust of his clients, business associates, friends and family, all to steal money,” U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine said Tuesday. “This tough but fair sentence should remind those considering similar behavior about the consequences of those decisions.”
In a statement, Erskine said Detling, a personal injury lawyer, obtained fraudulent “litigation advances” in the names of his clients, without their knowledge. The high-interest loans help plaintiffs cover living and medical expenses while their lawsuits are pending, and they agree to repay the loans when their cases are settled or awarded damages.
Detling secured the loans without his clients’ knowledge in part because financing companies did not require the clients to be present when applying for them, Erskine said.
Detling also strung the financing companies along by lying about the status of his clients’ cases, the U.S. attorney said. In one instance, Detling submitted a doctored letter from an insurance company in which he claimed it offered to settle a case for $250,000 when in fact it offered only $2,000, Erskine said.
The fraud was committed from October 2014 to April 2016. Detling was disbarred from practicing law in Georgia in October 2016.
The FBI investigated the case. Said Philip Wislar, Atlanta’s Acting Special Agent in Charge: “Detling violated the trust of the clients that hired him and used his position as an attorney not to pursue justice, but to pursue a fraud scheme for personal gain.”