Chicago Law Exec Finds Himself in the Soup

     CHICAGO (CN) – David Tresch, a former executive with a major Chicago law firm, was arrested Thursday, accused of stealing $850,000 from the office, the U.S. attorney said.
     The U.S. attorney’s statement did not identify Tresch’s employer, calling it only “an international law firm,” but the Chicago Tribune identified it as Mayer Brown.
     Tresch, 51, of Itasca, was criminally charged with mail fraud, in a complaint unsealed after his arrest. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine.
     Tresch, the law firm’s chief information officer, is accused of running a fraudulent billing scheme in which he approved payments for information services that had not been performed, and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars along the way.
     Prosecutors said in the statement: “Tresch obtained nearly $1.3 million in additional proceeds since approximately 2005, a year after he joined the victim firm.” The U.S. Attorney’s Office added: “FBI agents seized approximately $210,000 in bank accounts controlled by Tresch, as well as a camping trailer, a van, and a luxury automobile, and agents obtained authority to seize a mobile home.”
     Tresch worked at Mayer Brown from May 2004 until June this year, when he was fired after an internal investigation, the Tribune reported on Thursday.
     Prosecutors said that from May 2011 to May 2012, the law firm paid $980,000 to the unidentified vendor firm for office automation, website and database development and other technology services.
     “During that same time, the vendor firm issued 11 checks totaling $854,250 to Tresch, who deposited the funds into one of two personal accounts he controlled, and then used funds from those accounts to purchase and make payments on the mobile home, camper, and vehicles,” prosecutors said in the statement.
     “As part of his duties, Tresch was responsible for reviewing invoices from, and authorizing payment to, the vendor firm for the services of contract employees. Between November 2004 and March 2011, the law firm paid the vendor firm nearly $7.8 million for work purportedly performed by the vendor firm contract employees. During that time, records showed that more than 95 percent of the vendor firm’s income came from the victim law firm, the charges state. Between February 2005 and March 2011, the vendor firm paid Tresch nearly $1.3 million, or more than 15 percent of the money it received from the law firm, according to the affidavit.”
     Prosecutors say Tresch never disclosed to the law firm that he had a financial interest in the vendor. They say he was ordered in February 2011 to stop using the vendor, but the vendor continued submitting invoices to Tresch, who continued to approve payments.
     “Between May 2011 and May 2012, the $854,250 that Tresch allegedly obtained represented nearly 90 percent of the $980,000 that the victim law firm had paid to the vendor, the charges allege.”
     Tresch was released on a $100,000 partially secured bond. A status hearing has been set for Sept. 5.

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