01 September 2016

Fourth person pleads guilty in BigLaw firm scam

A sister of a former employee of BigLaw firm Vedder Price has pleaded guilty to her part in a fake invoice scheme that allegedly cost the Chicago-headquartered firm $7 million.

By Victoria Basham


The Daily Herald and Am Law Daily report that Deborah Acuna, the fourth and final defendant, pleaded guilty last week. She was sentenced to 10 months in Cook County jail in Illinois, 18 months of probation and ordered to pay $175,000 in restitution.

Former employee

Ms Acuna’s sister, Patricia Lapinski, was a former office manager at Vedder Price and worked for the company for over 30 years until she was fired in 2013. Prosecutors alleged the pair created a shell company called DAS Designs that overcharged the law firm for office furniture and later billed it without providing any goods or services, with the company receiving $6.4 million between 2002 and 2013. Ms Lapinski was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty last year.


Also charged were James Bauer, a flooring company manager, and David Leisen, a furniture repair company owner, who prosecutors claimed conspired with the sisters to create fake invoices. As part of the scheme, Mr Bauer and Mr Leisen were paid nearly $1 million for services and goods they never provided. Both men have pleaded guilty, with Mr Bauer receiving two years' conditional discharge and Mr Leisen being sentenced to six months in jail and 24 months of probation.

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