Randy Wynn, the former Milwaukee-area collections attorney who embezzled nearly $780,000 from clients, was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison.
Wynn, 61, turned himself in to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office in 2012, telling them he stole the money to support a gambling addiction. He pleaded guilty in April to two counts of theft by embezzlement of more than $10,000.
In Milwaukee County Circuit Court on Wednesday, Wynn told Judge Timothy Witkowiak, “Being on this side of the table is not something that I relish. … What I did was wrong. I have no excuse.”
Prosecutor David Feiss recommended a three-year prison sentence, but Witkowiak opted for two years, plus four years of extended supervision. The judge also ordered Wynn to pay back the money he stole from clients.
Witkowiak noted Wynn was a “very well respected member of the bar prior to news of this coming out,” but the “the primary concern here is the trust that these clients put in their attorney.”
The judge ordered Wynn to turn himself in by 5 p.m. Monday. Wynn’s brother, Bruce Wynn, told the judge that the family’s other brother, who has a terminal brain tumor, is in town and that this may be the last time to visit.
Wynn’s charges stemmed from the theft $33,000 from South Milwaukee-based Benkowski Builders Inc. However, Wynn stole from more than 200 clients between 2009 and 2012, and he is still helping prosecutors to compile exactly who and how much he will have to pay back.
According to the criminal complaint, Benkowski hired Wynn to go after people who owed the company money, but Wynn told investigators he started to keep money paid to him by debtors in November 2009.
Benkowski Builders Vice President Jay Benkowski told investigators 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,” according to the complaint. Benkowski was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
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.”
Wynn graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1979. The Wisconsin Supreme Court revoked Wynn’s law license earlier this year, at his request. He has since worked as an apartment building manager.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Wynn had several supporters in the viewing gallery, including a fellow attorney, friends and family. He said he told his children not to come to the sentencing, though his son-in-law was in the viewing gallery.
He told the judge he never will practice law again.
Prior to sentencing, Feiss told Witkowiak there are “thousands and thousands of separate acts that Mr. Wynn committed.” One client lost about $90,000, he said.
“Mr. Wynn was, by all accounts, an attorney at the top of his field,” Feiss said. “And frankly, that success and that stellar reputation … made this offense possible.”
Wynn’s attorney, Steven Kohn of Kohn Smith Roth, Milwaukee, asked Witkowiak for “consistency in sentencing,” and noted that Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher sentenced former attorney Thomas Koch, who was convicted of embezzling nearly $2.5 million from a client, to a two-year prison sentence.
Kohn also pointed out that Wynn, “has been publicly shamed and shunned, and many of the doors that were open to him are now closed.” Follow @eheisigWLJ