Prison ordered for Salt Lake attorney who stole millions from disabled clients

Salt Lake attorney Calvin Curtis, 61, will spend nearly a decade in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling over $12 million from elderly and disabled clients.

Salt Lake attorney Calvin Curtis, 61, will spend nearly a decade in prison after pleading guilty to embezzling over $12 million from elderly and disabled clients. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A former Salt Lake estate planning attorney will spend nearly a decade in prison after he admitted to bilking millions of dollars from disabled clients.

Calvin Curtis, 61, of Salt Lake City, was sentenced Friday to 97 months — just over eight years — in federal prison, according to a news release from the Utah U.S. Attorney's Office. In addition to the prison sentence, Curtis was ordered to pay $12,779,496 in restitution to 26 victims. Curtis will be under supervised release for three years once his prison term is finished.

Curtis, who is now listed in Utah State Bar records as being disbarred, was initially charged in November with wire fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors say Curtis embezzled millions from clients who were "elderly, incapacitated, or disabled individuals," a news release says.

Curtis pleaded guilty to both charges the same month. At the time, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to recommend Curtis be sentenced to 73 months in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The 73-month sentencing deal was below the recommended sentencing guideline.

However, after hearing from victims on April 19, U.S. District Judge David Barlow rejected the proposed deal during what was supposed to be Curtis' sentencing hearing. One of those victims was Sherry McConkey, who told the judge that Curtis had taken over $12 million from her mother-in-law, Glenn McConkey.

Glenn McConkey lives in a care facility and suffers from Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Sherry McConkey said Curtis created estate documents that named him as Glenn McConkey's successor, cutting McConkey family members out and leaving him in control of a large sum of money.

Curtis was able to withdraw his guilty plea following Barlow's rejection of the initial deal. Court records indicate that Curtis again pleaded guilty on April 29.

Curtis' new plea agreement says that he started taking money from clients in 2008, when he began using his role as someone who specializes in special needs trusts to access millions from clients. Prosecutors accused him of wire fraud in connection with a wire transfer of $1,485,000 from an investment account to his Wells Fargo account.

Curtis pleaded guilty to using the money for his personal use, including making mortgage payments for his Salt Lake home. Curtis also spent the money on "a lavish lifestyle with frequent travel," tickets to basketball and football games and to support his law firm, among other expenses," the news release says. He also pleaded guilty to money laundering after he used transferred money from a client's account to pay a company to remodel a home of his in Tampa, Florida.

In addition to the prison time and millions of dollars in restitution, Curtis was also ordered to forfeit his property in Salt Lake City, the remaining money in his Wells Fargo bank account, and jewelry he purchased for $73,935, according to court records.

Curtis was remanded to the U.S. Marshals Service following his sentencing. He is slated to serve his prison time in a federal facility near Utah, according to court records.

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Jacob Scholl joined as a reporter in 2021. He covers northern Utah communities, federal courts and technology.


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