Attorney Admits to Embezzling Funds Intended for Kirkwood Church
A local attorney has pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud.
A local attorney has admitted to embezzling client funds from estates and family trusts, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Between February and July 2009, a client turned over $411,000 to Steven Gartenberg, 46, of St. Louis. A portion of that money was supposed to be paid to the Kirkwood United Methodist Church, as well as the Alzheimer’s Association and three individuals. Gartenberg instead diverted the funds to his law firm or converted them for personal use, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri.
On Wednesday, Gartenberg pleaded guilty to two felony counts of mail fraud. Each count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and/or fines up to $250,000. Sentencing is set for Sept. 2. Restitution is mandatory.
The Kirkwood United Methodist Church has already received money that was meant for the institution, according to Bob Rowlinson, chair of the board of Kirkwood United Methodist.
"When this case first came to light, family members really worked hard to get what was deserved to the church according to the wishes of family members," he said, adding that some funds need to be verified by an attorney representing the church.
The case was investigated by the Postal Inspection Service.