Skip to main content

A criminal defense attorney from Woodbury who swindled a client out of $15,000 has been sentenced to 180 days in a workhouse and ordered to pay him back.

The Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced Tuesday that Kristi McNeilly, who was charged in 2019 with theft by swindle, was sentenced after being convicted in October.

As well as the workhouse and restitution, McNeilly will also be on probation for three years and will no longer be allowed to have a fiduciary relationship with a client, or handle their funds.

It comes after a 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.

However, McNeilly failed to deposit the money immediately into her "Interest on Lawyer Trust Account," as is standard practice, and while she worked on the younger man's case and represented him at two hearings, she contacted the homeowner and told him he was looking at 15-20 years in prison, claiming she had spoken to the lead investigator and prosecuting attorney.

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. She had never spoken to the lead investigator.

Sign up: Subscribe to our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

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, fifth-degree controlled substance crime after the case was submitted to Hennepin County prosecutors.

The client 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

TyreNicholsGoFundMe

Cities prepare for release of footage showing Tyre Nichols' fatal arrest by Memphis PD

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O'Hara issued a statement on the incident Thursday.

DeShaun Hill

Cody Fohrenkam found guilty of Deshaun Hill Jr.'s murder

The 15-year-old was fatally shot on Feb. 9, 2022.

Screen Shot 2023-01-26 at 12.15.23 PM

Gov. Tim Walz proposes $3.3B for aging infrastructure

Walz's borrowing plan comes days after the release of his two-year state budget proposal.

Screen Shot 2023-01-26 at 8.43.35 AM

Children's Theatre Company actors lose belongings in damaging house fire

The fire broke out Tuesday morning shortly after the dryer had been started.

Flickr - Superior National Forest Boundary Waters

Biden Admin. imposes 20-year mining ban near Boundary Waters

The moratorium is the maximum the Department of the Interior can implement without congressional approval.

JustusRamseyHouse

Historic St. Paul building to be removed, put in storage after public outcry

The building was set to be demolished before community members spoke out against it.

Related

money, cash, $100

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

She claimed he faced 15-20 years in prison.

powell itasca jail jan 2022 resize

Attorney accused of sex assault misses hearing, DMs judge

He was arrested the next day after a warrant was issued,

Garrett Bumgarner - Woodbury crash - resize

Teen gets suspended sentence for crash that killed East Ridge student

Garrett Bumgarner was killed in the March 2021 crash.

money hundred dollar bills

Minnesota CEO indicted for factoring, PPP loan fraud scheme

Authorities say she defrauded a Florida investment company for millions, and fraudulently obtained PPP loans.

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.

money hundred dollar bills

Charges: Eden Prairie man falsely applied for COVID relief, fled to Colombia

He applied for more than $2 million in COVID relief loans

Lauri Anne Deatherage

Man indicted for first-degree murder in ex-wife's death

He's accused of killing her days after she remarried.