Barred lawyer pleads innocent to fraud
Andrew Lichtenberg is accused of stealing $300,000 from a client
Unable to fly to Kauai because of a medical condition, an ailing 69-year-old Louisiana woman retained attorney Andrew L. Lichtenberg to handle the sale of her interest in property in Kapaa, Kauai.
She paid Lichtenberg $1,800 for his legal services in July 2004, and he was supposed to wire the $373,000 proceeds of the sale into her bank account.
Instead, the government contends, Lichtenberg had the proceeds deposited into his client trust account and later withdrew the money to purchase three cashier's checks totaling $300,000, which he later deposited or wired into two personal accounts, here and overseas.
Lichtenberg, 60, pleaded not guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court to a superseding indictment charging him with three additional counts of money laundering in connection with the money he stole.
A federal grand jury initially indicted him in November with mail fraud, wire fraud and making false statements on a passport application.
The woman, who was displaced from her home in Mandeville, La., after Hurricane Katrina, is living with friends in California. The proceeds represented her entire life savings, according to the indictment.
Lichtenberg was admitted to the Hawaii bar in March 2003 and practiced law from his business, called the Kapaa Legal Clinic. At the time of his indictment last November, he was suspended from practicing. He has since been disbarred from practicing law in Hawaii effective last Dec. 21.
Lichtenberg is facing trial next week on the charges and is expected to represent himself. He remains in federal custody pending trial.