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Defense attorney convicted of swindling client

A Twin Cities criminal defense attorney has been convicted of bilking one her clients out of $15,000, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Tuesday.

A jury on Monday found Kristi McNeilly, 46, of Woodbury, guilty of theft by swindle. Minnesota sentencing guidelines call for her to receive probation and some workhouse time, Freeman said.

McNeilly’s client, a 53-year-old man, was arrested for having a small amount of drugs in a safe. At one point in the case, according to the complaint, McNeilly told him that the lead prosecutor and investigator told her during a meeting that they had a strong case and the defendant was facing 15 to 20 years in federal prison.

McNeilly told her client he could avoid charges either by paying $35,000 to a police union and becoming a confidential informant, or by simply paying $50,000 to the union. McNeilly then drove the victim to a bank, where he proceeded to pay her a $15,000 cashier’s check as a partial payment on the $50,000, the complaint said. She used the money for a mortgage payment, payments to credit cards and other personal spending,

Further investigation showed that McNeilly never met with a prosecutor or investigator and the proposal to pay money to a police union was phony.

Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 27.


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