LOUISVILLE, Ky. – United States Attorney John E. Kuhn, Jr. on Tuesday charged David Cary Ford, 53, of Louisville, Kentucky, with criminal counts of wire fraud and money laundering, stemming from Ford’s activities while he was a practicing attorney and the executor of seven estates in Louisville.
“Attorneys are professionally and ethically bound to serve their clients’ best interests,” stated U.S. Attorney John Kuhn. “We simply cannot tolerate attorneys or any other fiduciaries using their positions of trust to steal from those they are obligated to protect. This prosecution serves the principle of justice and vindicates the breach of a trust that is an absolutely essential component of a multitude of professional relationships.”
The criminal information charging Ford alleges that from November 6, 2008, through February 11, 2015, Ford, serving as executor of the estates of Saundra A. Benzinger, Kenneth L. Keith, William T. Lawson, Mary Helen Pfeffer, Elinor E. Starr, Mary Augustine Starr, and Richard Steinmetz, defrauded those estates of approximately $1,666,671.18, and used those estates’ funds for personal expenses and enjoyment, including significant gambling activity.
Specifically, as executor of estates, Ford was authorized at various banks to pay estate expenses. However, Ford also used these estate accounts, without authorization, to withdraw cash and to pay his personal expenses with estate client funds. In his capacity as executor, Ford processed these withdrawals of estate funds and mischaracterized them as estate expenses. For example, Ford made a $4,000 cash withdrawal from an account belonging to the Estate of Kenneth L. Keith at PNC Bank on May 22, 2013.
The criminal information also alleges that from July 21, 2014, to July 28, 2014, Ford laundered fraud proceeds by using funds from one estate to conceal the depletion of the funds from another estate. Specifically, to conceal or disguise the source of proceeds from unlawful activity, on July 24, 2014, after depleting the funds of the Estate of Kenneth L. Keith, Ford took $35,960.18 from the estate of Elinor E. Starr, in a cashier’s check, deposited those funds into his escrow account, and then on July 28, 2014, used $25,000 of those funds to pay a beneficiary of the Estate of Kenneth L. Keith.
In the event of a conviction, the maximum potential penalties Ford faces are forty years’ imprisonment, $750,000 in fines, and supervised release for a period of three years.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jason Snyder, and it results from an investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.