|For Immediate Release
Case # 12HF2546 June 20, 2014
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Chief of Staff
ATTORNEY SENTENCED TO 12 YEARS IN PRISON FOR EMBEZZLING OVER $780,000, INCLUDING $720,000 FROM ELDERLY SISTERS HE KNEW THROUGH CHURCH
SANTA ANA – An attorney was sentenced today to 12 years in state prison for stealing over $780,000 from nine victims, including over $720,000 from his client trust account from two elderly sisters after offering to assist them with their finances. Peter David Nitschke, 47, Newport Beach, pleaded guilty to a court offer Feb. 3, 2014, to six felony counts of grand theft, two felony counts of elder financial abuse, and one felony count of issuing a check with non-sufficient funds, with white collar crime sentencing enhancements.
In March 2010, the 95-year-old mother of 69-year-old Virginia C. and mother-in-law of 65-year-old Diane C. died, leaving the women a property in Northern California and over $675,000 in bank accounts.
Nitschke, a then-Irvine-based attorney, was friends with the victims’ family and was president of their church congregation, the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Laguna Woods. The defendant offered to help Diane C. and Virginia C. settle the financial accounts and directed them to give him cashier’s checks in the amount of all the funds left to them in the bank accounts by their mother/mother-in-law.
He stole over $675,000 from the victims by depositing the money in his client trust and then almost immediately transferring the money his personal and business bank accounts. The defendant also stole an additional $46,000 from the victims by failing to return the funds to them from a real estate transaction. Nitschke then spent the money or hid it by moving it into other accounts.
In early 2012, the victims’ family inquired with the defendant about the money to assist Diane C. and Virginia C. with medical and nursing home expenses. Despite the account having been closed with a zero balance, Nitschke created a fraudulent bank statement dated that month to falsely show that the funds were in his client trust account.
After becoming suspicious of the defendant’s handling of the accounts, the victims called the Irvine Police Department in May 2012. Nitschke was arrested in September 2012 and charged by the Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) for the crimes against Diane C. and Virginia C. The OCDA publicized the case and, as a result of the media coverage, additional victims came forward.