Sarah Laux is an estate planning attorney from Wisconsin who has been accused in a 33-count criminal indictment of stealing $3 million from two of her wealthy older clients. Her indictment includes five counts, including fraud, money laundering and filing a false tax return, which could have resulted in a four-year prison term. It now appears that she will plead guilty to all five counts in exchange for cooperating in the attempt to restore as much of her clients’ money as possible from her remaining assets.
Apparently, until her downfall, Laux was successful in luring older wealthy clients with seminars at which she provided food and drinks. Her background did not raise anyone’s suspicions. After earning her law degree from Marquette University in 2004, she worked for her father’s small law firm until 2009. Though the details have yet to be uncovered, she ended up owing eight of her clients $626,000. This information came to light when she admitted it in a petition seeking to give up her law license.
It is unknown how she met her first victim, an old-money client from Milwaukee from whose estate she managed to divert approximately $1 million. In her most lucrative crime, she is accused of taking $2 million from a couple whose son says she persuaded them to invest in particular funds, but never invested the money she received from them. Their claimed loss is substantiated in federal and state insurance commission records.
Such outrageous fraudulent behavior, though rare among estate planning lawyers, does occur and can be financially and emotionally devastating to its victims. This is why it is extremely important that you trust your estate only to a well-established attorney who not only has strong credentials, but who also has a well-earned reputation for honesty and dependability.