A West Allis debt collection attorney who admitted to stealing more than $780,000 from his clients pleaded not guilty Thursday to criminal charges.
Randy Wynn, 61, faces two counts of embezzlement of more than $10,000. The criminal complaint, filed Thursday, states Wynn told investigators he stole money over the course of several years to support a gambling habit.
The criminal investigation began after Wynn went to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office in late 2012 to report the thefts, according to the report.
In an August interview, Wynn said he was cooperating with the criminal investigation, as well as another investigation being done by the Office of Lawyer Regulation. He has told authorities he is seeking help for his gambling and other personal problems.
Wynn waived his preliminary hearing when making his first appearance Thursday afternoon in front of Court Commissioner Barry Phillips. He was ordered to turn himself in to the Milwaukee County Jail by 3 p.m. Friday, and should then be released on a signature bond.
Wynn’s attorney, Steven Kohn of Kohn Smith Roth, declined to comment after the proceedings. Wynn’s next court date is Feb. 4 in front of Circuit Judge William Brash.
Each theft count carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence upon conviction.
Wynn’s license to practice law was suspended in August by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, despite Wynn asking the court to revoke his license because he is “unable to defend against misconduct allegations.” The court, in its opinion, stated it did not want to revoke his license until it decided how Wynn will pay restitution.
According to the criminal complaint, Wynn embezzled money by “withdrawing cash from this client trust account beyond what his fee agreement entitled him to and some monies by not depositing client monies into his trust account at all.”
A portion of those thefts, according to the complaint, were from the South Milwaukee-based Benkowski Builders Inc. The company hired Wynn to go after those that owned the company money, but Wynn told investigators he started to keep money paid to him by debtors in November 2009.
Wynn told investigators he stole about $33,000 from the company. Benkowski Builders’ vice president, Jay Benkowski, did not dispute that number, but said Wynn’s actions “caused actual losses to the company of closer to $250,000 and $300,000 because all of the debts that were assigned to the defendant became uncollectible.”
Benkowski told investigators that Wynn owned up to the thefts when the company told his law firm that they would stop paying him.
Benkowski Builders is the only victim named in the complaint, though it states Wynn told investigators that he stole from more than 200 clients.Follow @eheisigWLJ