A California lawyer has agreed to be disbarred over a charge of stealing $117,000 from a widow after representing her in a case regarding her deceased husband's life insurance policy proceeds, according to the State Bar of California and Orange County District Attorney's (OCDA) statements.
Redmond Peter McAneny, 55, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was arrested on Dec. 13 by OCDA investigators. He was charged with one felony count of grand theft by embezzlement with a sentencing enhancement for property damage over $65,000. If convicted, he faces up to four years in state prison.
This case was investigated by the OCDA and State Bar of California and an agreement was reached on December 20, and State Bar prosecutors submitted a stipulated disbarment for him.
McAneny has been accused of misappropriating the funds of widow Deborah Slaybaugh, whom he represented in 2007 and 2008 for securing her late husband's life insurance policy.
The victim and her husband had been going through a divorce and he had changed the terms of his trust before his death, leaving it unclear if his wife or son would receive his life insurance benefits.
A settlement was reached to divide the insurance policy in half, and a check for over $117,000 was issued to a trust fund account for Slaybaugh on July 10, 2008.
According to McAneny's stipulation agreement, for the last six months of 2008, he drained the account, making numerous withdrawals unrelated to the trust matter. He never disbursed any funds to his client or any other person entitled to as part of the settlement.
McAneny admitted that he made a series of misrepresentations to Slaybaugh in an effort to conceal his misappropriation.
The State Bar has also asked the superior court to take over McAneny's practice and to freeze his accounts to protect his clients.
McAneny was previously investigated and disciplined in 1993 and he was suspended for 90 days for a similar involvement of alleged embezzlement from a client.
OCDA will ask that his bail be set at $250,000 at his arraignment in the courtroom of the Orange County Jail. As part of his agreement with the bar, McAneny has been ordered to make restitution to Slaybaugh.
McAneny, who has been practicing law since 1977, currently practices in Newport Beach.