Skip to main content

Charges: Defense lawyer swindled client out of $15,000

She claimed he faced 15-20 years in prison.

She was hired to provide him legal representation, but instead she allegedly swindled him out of $15,000.

That's according to charges filed this week in Hennepin County against Kristi McNeilly, 44, of Woodbury, who has been charged with a single count of theft by swindle.

According to a criminal complaint, the 53-year-old man she was representing became a suspect when drugs were found in a safe inside his house in Minnetonka during a police search.

The homeowner wasn't charged immediately, but a 39-year-old man living in the house was given a petty misdemeanor citation for marijuana found on them, and both men hired McNeilly to represent them.

McNeilly agreed on May 15, 2018 to represent the homeowner for $20,000 and the younger man for $2,500.

After they sent checks and direct deposits to McNeilly for $22,500, McNeilly failed to immediately deposit the money into her "Interest on Lawyer Trust Account," as is standard practice.

While she worked on the younger man's case and represented him at 2 hearings, she contacted the homeowner and said she'd met with the lead investigator and prosecuting attorney, before telling the homeowner he was looking at 15-20 years in prison.

She said if he paid $35,000 to a police union fund and work as a confidential informant, he would not be charged.

However, this was a lie.

The lead investigator never met with McNeilly nor spoke to her on the phone, and there's no indication that federal prosecutors were ever involved.

Follow Bring Me The News on LinkedIn

Nonetheless, the homeowner told McNeilly he could come up with $15,000, and she drove him to the bank where he got a cashier's check, which McNeilly deposited in her business checking account.

The homeowner ultimately was only charged with a low-level, 5th degree controlled substance crime after the case was submitted to Hennepin County prosecutors on Oct. 24.

On Nov. 8, he asked McNeilly for his $15,000 back and his $20,000 retainer fee, but she refused and said the money had already gone to the police union.

Investigation of her bank accounts however found no payments to the police union, but instead several payments to her credit cards along with a mortgage payment.

Next Up

storm, severe weather

Threat of severe weather returns to Minnesota for 2 days

Isolated severe storms Wednesday, followed by scattered severe storms Thursday.


1 dead, 2 injured in crash at intersection in Ramsey

The crash happened at the intersection of Bunker Lake Blvd. and Sunfish Lake Blvd.

Tettegouche State Park bridge

Trails reopen as waters subside, but bridges damaged at Tettegouche State Park

Water levels on the river have dropped about six to eight feet since Friday.

Keith Harvell

Body pulled from Mississippi River ID'd as missing Elk River man

Keith Harvell had been missing since early last month.

900 W Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota - July 2021

2 victims identified in double-fatal north Minneapolis shooting

A 21-year-old man and a 51-year-old man were identified as the people who died at the scene this past weekend.

Proctor football

Former Proctor HS football player pleads guilty to sexual assault of teammate

The case will also remain in juvenile court, with conditions.

Doug Wardlow

Doug Wardlow reneges on promise, will challenge GOP's AG candidate in primary

Wardlow's announcement sparked swift criticism from the MN GOP and the party-endorsed candidate, Jim Schultz.

Flickr - welcome to minnesota sign - Tony Webster

US News '150 Best Places to Live' features 1 from MN, 3 from WI

The latest US News list is for the most populous metro areas only, so no small towns.


7 tornadoes touched down last week in western MN, ND

Two of the seven were EF-2 level tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.


Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, May 17

72 hours of case data reported over the weekend is included in Tuesday updates.


money hundred dollar bills

Defense attorney sentenced to workhouse for swindling client

She told the client he was facing 15-20 years in prison unless he stumped up more cash.

money, cash, $100

Former clerk charged with embezzling $650K in Township funds

The 70-year-old is accused of misappropriating funds.

money, cash, $100

MN man charged with fraudulently obtaining $841,000 in COVID-19 PPP loans

He applied for the loans for a business that had been shut down in 2018.

Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 11.45.12 AM

Minnesota drywall company charged with major swindle scheme

The construction company intentionally categorized employees as contractors.

Minnesota Sex Offender Program Moose Lake

Charges: Psychologist sexually assaulted 2 clients at Minnesota Sex Offender Program

The 38-year-old from Duluth is facing charges of criminal sexual conduct.

Charges: Woodbury man took bite out of man's ear

He's facing multiple assault charges.

Darrion Gresham

Charges: Pot dealer, 18, killed client who robbed him at gunpoint

The teenager has been charged with second-degree murder.

money, cash, $100

Maple Grove investment advisor defrauded clients out of $2.2 million

Isaiah Goodman has been charged with one count of mail fraud.