SAN ANTONIO – A former San Antonio lawyer was indicted on Thursday on wire fraud and money laundering charges, according to federal authorities.
Christopher John Pettit, 55, is facing five counts of wire fraud and three counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified unlawful activity, a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office states.
Federal authorities said Pettit worked through his law firm Chris Pettit and Associates, PC, to make “numerous material misrepresentations to clients to influence certain financial decisions and transactions.”
He made false representations over emails, text messages and letters to persuade his clients to give his firm money, authorities said.
In turn, he allegedly used that money for services like living trusts, irrevocable trusts, wills and estate planning services.
Pettit opened accounts as the trustee, authorities said, so he could put the client-wired funds into his own account.
“Other fraudulent schemes alleged in the indictment include falsely promising to invest client money in high percentage return bonds and instead wiring the funds to his personal account, and falsely representing himself as a Qualified Intermediary and encouraging clients to wire millions of dollars from asset sales into his own account,” the release states.
Federal authorities said he used the funds to pay other client debts and support his “extravagant lifestyle.”
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and would be ordered to forfeit the money.