Tulsa, OK – A 21-month investigation culminated today in charges against a Tulsa attorney and a former attorney on allegations that they embezzled more than $1.1 million from clients, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.
William J. Anton and Fred M. Schraeder are accused in Tulsa County District Court of racketeering, conspiracy and multiple counts of embezzlement, forgery and workers' compensation fraud.
Schraeder, 59, is a Tulsa attorney and Anton, 59, is a former lawyer who surrendered his law license in 2007, but continued to practice, albeit illegally. The pair is accused of embezzling $1,169,514.18 from clients' personal injury and life insurance settlements and workers' compensation benefits claims. Of that amount, the state alleges Anton is solely responsible for embezzling slightly more than $1 million and Schraeder helped him embezzle about $155,000 more.
Anton was arrested today by attorney general investigators and officers from the Tulsa Police Department. Schraeder is not in custody.
"Our criminal information details allegations accusing these defendants of embezzling various amounts from multiple clients over a five-year period," Edmondson said. "In one count, we accuse Anton of embezzling almost $250,000 in life insurance benefits from a single client.
"Numerous times, we allege, the pair would settle a claim without a client's knowledge or consent and then forge the client's signature on settlement and benefit checks," Edmondson said.
Both men face one count of racketeering and conspiracy to commit a felony. In addition, Anton faces 39 counts of embezzlement, five counts of uttering a forged instrument and three counts of workers' compensation fraud. Schraeder faces eight counts of embezzlement, four counts of uttering a forged instrument and three counts of workers' compensation fraud.
"The majority of the funds Anton and Schraeder are accused of stealing were intended to benefit Oklahomans who had been injured, whether on the job or in some type of accident," Edmondson said. "Our investigation uncovered that both defendants paid personal expenses with clients' money. We also discovered Anton made a large number of ATM withdrawals, some at casinos."