Caption: Kathleen Niew
“Accept no loss of principal,” was the money-keeping mantra of an Oak Brook-based attorney and financial advisor, sentenced Tuesday to 70 months for stealing $2.34 million from her clients which she used for fraudulent investments.
Kathleen Niew, 59, who resides in Burr Ridge, pleaded guilty to ten counts of wire fraud in federal court last June, a month before she was scheduled to go to trial. In addition to her jail sentence, Niew was also ordered to pay $2.34 million restitution to clients she defrauded, and forfeit any ill-gotten assets, said a news advisory from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
U.S. District Court Judge Harry Leinenweber also ordered three years of supervised release.
“The sentence must promote respect for the law . . . something has to be done when a case like this comes up,” the judge said before imposing sentence.
Niew was a fast rising financial advisor and attorney, founding Niew Legal Partners, LLC, in Oak Brook, along with her husband, Stanley. Among the many accomplishments Niew touts in her online bio, she is a former Republican Businesswoman of the Year, author of two books, a radio probate law guru, and a star on the seminar circuit with her “Money Talks For Women” series.
According to the charges, Niew took an Oak Park couple’s life savings of $2.34 million and invested it in her escrow account to be used for closings on commercial real estate deals. Prosecutors allege that Niew invested the couple’s money without their knowledge into gold mines, instead of using their money to purchase commercial property as originally planned.
Niew also arranged to receive a 20-percent finder’s fee from the mining investments as part of her fraudulent scheme, in exchange for providing approximately $1.5 million in funds that belonged to her clients.
During her sentencing on Tuesday, Judge Leinenweber also found Niew responsible for defrauding another client out of $500,000, claiming she needed to borrow the money help buy assets in an upcoming divorce.
The judge said that the now disbarred attorney was not divorcing her husband, and sent the client’s money to the same gold mining operations where she had sent the Oak Park couple’s money.
“Niew blatantly stole $2.8 million of her clients’ money, and then lied to cover up the scam,” Assistant United States Attorney Suni Harjani argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “When confronted and caught, Niew undertook acts that can only be described as shocking for an attorney licensed by the bar – creating false cover-up documents, lying to her clients, and lying under oath (once again) to the [Illinois Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission].”
Niew is to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on April 14.