SAN ANTONIO – A federal grand jury in San Antonio indicted a former local attorney Thursday on wire fraud and money laundering charges, according to the United States Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Texas.
Federal officials said Christopher John Pettit, of San Antonio, made several misrepresentations to influence clients to make certain financial decisions and transactions through his law firm.
Pettit is accused of sending emails, texts and letters to persuade clients to deposit money to his firm for trusts, wills and other estate planning services. He allegedly used the clients’ funds to open the accounts and name himself as the trustee to give him the ability to access and move the money into his own account, according to the indictment.
Federal officials said Pettit also falsely promised to invest clients’ money in high-percentage return bonds but instead also diverted those funds to his account while falsely representing himself as a qualified intermediary.
Pettit would use the funds from his clients to pay for other clients’ debts and to support an extravagant lifestyle, according to the indictment.
The former lawyer faces five counts of wire fraud and three counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Pettit faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 if he’s found guilty. Federal officials said he would also be ordered to forfeit all the money obtained directly and indirectly if he is found liable for the counts.