A personal injury attorney in Florida was arrested this week for allegedly stealing more than $840,000 from his clients, before blowing the funds on drugs and an adult subscription platform, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced on Monday.
Christopher Michael Reynolds, 44, is facing charges of money laundering and grand theft for allegedly defrauding 16 clients out of settlement funds.
Reynolds Forged Clients' Signatures, Kept Settlement Money for Himself
Reynolds, who began his own personal injury law practice in 2015 and worked as a "car wreck lawyer." Authorities said Reynolds was supposed to refer his clients, mostly victims of car accidents, to medical providers under a "letter of protection." He was then tasked with billing the charges to the insurance companies of at-fault drivers.
However, in early October 2022, deputies received a complaint from a car accident victim who was represented by Reynolds. The victim said she maintained steady communication with Reynolds until her case neared its end â That's when authorities said Reynolds would cut communication.
Upon calling her insurance company, the victim learned Reynolds settled the case in March 2022 for $100,000. The woman was never awarded for her injuries. Gualtieri said Reynolds forged the woman's signature on settlement documents without paying her medical bills or transferring her settlement money.
Reynolds Used $840K on Drugs, OnlyFans, PayPal, Uber
During an investigation, deputies learned the Florida Bar was already conducting an investigation into the systemic theft by Reynolds. "We identified that Reynolds stole over $840,000 in client money from 16 people," Gualtieri said. "This represents the people we have identified so far."
"It is believed at least a portion of the stolen money was used to buy drugs," Gualtieri said. "His Bank records show he spent over $30,000 on the website OnlyFans, over $25,000 on the anonymous billing site, MMbill, almost $400K on PayPal, and over $24,000 on Uber."
In December 2022, the Florida Supreme Court issued an emergency suspension order of Reynolds' license to practice in Florida. "This is a situation where you got somebody that's supposed to help people. That's sticking it to them and taking their money," Gualtieri said. "It's just really a terrible situation."