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Disbarred lawyer gets two years in prison for fraud

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Crime gavel

ST. LOUIS • Steven P. Gartenberg, a disbarred lawyer who once had an office in Brentwood, was sentenced to two years in federal prison Friday for stealing more more than $300,000 from clients.

Gartenberg pleaded guilty in June to two counts of mail fraud. He admitted keeping more than $100,000 from a woman's estate that was supposed to go to the Kirkwood United Methodist Church, the Alzheimer's Association and three individuals and making more than $200,000 in unauthorized withdrawals from the bank account of a mentally disabled woman who was under his guardianship.

He also took money from two other clients, and later repaid them from a dead man's estate.

On Friday, Gartenberg apologized, saying, "This isn't like me. I feel much remorse for what I've done."

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Gartenberg faced 27 to 33 months in prison.

Gartenberg's lawyer, Art Margulis, asked for less time, citing unspecified mental health issues.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Reap countered that Gartenberg had enough mental capacity to manipulate client accounts and move money back and forth to hide his theft.

Ultimately, U.S. District Judge Rod Sippel sentenced Gartenberg to two years in prison and ordered him to repay $267,000. Most of that money will go to the Bar Plan Surety and Fidelity Company, professional liability coverage for lawyers, which paid for the guardianship victim. He also repaid a small amount himself, Margulis said.

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