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

Anthony Edwards

Ant ejected, Wolves blow huge lead and lose to slumping Hawks

The Timberwolves missed another opportunity to get over .500.

Xcel Energy Center

NHL announces make-up dates for Wild postponements

The Wild will play 40 games in the final 77 days of the regular season.

the mayo clinic - edit

Group says Mayo should be 'severely punished' over research puppy's death

The puppy died two days after undergoing a procedure at a Mayo research facility.

FLickr - minneapolis police - Tony Webster - Feb 2020 - crop

Charges: Man kidnapped woman, sexually assaulted her at gunpoint

The suspect faces three separate felony charges.

mn state capitol january 17 2021

St. Cloud 'Boogaloo Boi' who discussed attack on MN Capitol gets 2 years

He was charged with illegally possessing a machine gun.

Chris Smith

Gophers add All-Ivy League D-tackle from Harvard

Chris Smith will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.

school bus

High school basketball team returns from game to find bus driver dead

Members of the girls team returned to the bus to find the driver unresponsive.

covid-19 testing site sign

Minnesota AG sues COVID testing site, alleging it sent false results

Sometimes the company didn't send people their results at all, the lawsuit alleges.

optum headquarters chad davis wikimedia commons

UnitedHealth Group says it made $287B last year, $24B of it profit

The corporation's Optum business represented a significant chunk of that total.


Omicron may have already peaked in Minnesota

Reported cases lag what's happening in real time, so the newly reported cases over the next week or so will still be very high.

MnDot snow plow cam I-35 12-10-21

MnDOT reveals 50 snowplow name finalists

Voting is open through Wednesday, Jan. 26.


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,

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.

Lauri Anne Deatherage

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

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

Screen Shot 2021-12-23 at 9.11.47 AM

Fatal hit-and-run suspect turns himself in; search for vehicle continues

A 34-year-old woman was killed in the collision Monday evening.

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.

Screen Shot 2020-06-09 at 8.59.53 AM

Attorney says witnesses should have intervened in Floyd arrest, quickly backtracks

Earl Gray has been vocal in disputing the charges against his client, Thomas Lane.