PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A former Portland lawyer was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison Monday after defrauding over 100 clients out of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.

Lori E. Deveny, 57, was also ordered to pay over $4.5 million in restitution to her victims.

“It’s hard to overstate the extraordinary impact Ms. Deveny’s crimes had on the many innocent and vulnerable victims who trusted her. As a former attorney, she had a special responsibility to her clients and to the public, but she repeatedly abused this trust and prioritized her own needs. This is a just sentence for serious crimes,” said Ethan Knight, Chief of the Economic Crimes Unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Lori E. Deveny, a former Portland attorney, was sentenced to eight years in prison for defrauding her clients, January 9, 2023 (KOIN)
Lori E. Deveny, a former Portland attorney, was sentenced to eight years in prison for defrauding her clients, January 9, 2023 (KOIN)

“The cruelest thing of all is knowingly providing false hope. Having already suffered losses, Ms. Deveny’s clients deserved an attorney who represented their best interests. What they got instead was someone who inflicted more loss,” added Special Agent in Charge Bret Kressin, IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Seattle Field Office. “Today, Ms. Deveny is receiving what she never provided her clients: a picture of reality that those who choose to defraud will face the consequences of their actions.”

Court documents say that between April 2011 and May 2019, Deveny defrauded at least 135 of her clients out of over $3.8 million in insurance proceeds by stealing clients’ identities, forging insurance checks, depositing client funds into her personal bank account and deceiving clients continually by telling them they would eventually receive compensation for their injuries. Many of her victims were particularly vulnerable due to their severe brain and bodily injuries, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Deveny’s scheme also cost Oregon State Bar Client Security Fund, Wells Fargo and the IRS, according to investigators. Due to the state bar making partial restitution payments to some of Deveny’s clients, their security fund lost $1.2 million, one of the largest losses in the organization’s history. Wells Fargo reportedly lost $52,000 due to a forged check and the IRS lost over $621,000 when Deveny didn’t report the money she stole on her tax returns.

Deveny used the proceeds to pay more than $150,000 on foreign and domestic airline tickets, more than $173,000 on African safari and big game hunting trips, $35,000 on taxidermy expenses, $125,000 on home renovations, $195,000 in mortgage payments, more than $220,000 in cigars and related expenses, $58,000 on pet boarding and veterinary costs, $41,000 on recreational vehicle expenses, $50,000 for a Cadillac vehicle, and $60,000 on stays at a luxury nudist resort in Palm Springs, Calif.

“While serving as an attorney, Ms. Deveny brazenly stole money that should have gone to pay for health care for her clients for serious injuries and ailments. Instead, that money funded things like big game hunting trips to Africa and home remodeling. She took advantage of people who were physically and emotionally hurting by forging insurance checks, stealing the funds and lying to her clients about the payouts,” said Kieran L. Ramsey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Portland Field Office. “These actions not only got her disbarred but are now putting her behind bars. The FBI applauds our partners at IRS-CI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as we continue to bring to justice those who commit this kind of unconscionable financial fraud that harms the people in our shared community.”

A grand jury returned a 24-count indictment on Deveny on May 7, 2019, charging her with mail, bank, and wire fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft, money laundering and filing a false tax return. She pled guilty to one count each of mail, wire, and bank fraud, and also plead guilty to money laundering, filing a false tax return and two counts of aggravated identity theft on June 27, 2022.