A former Topeka lawyer pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges of money laundering and wire fraud for stealing funds established to benefit the Kansas University School of Business.
Robert M. Telthorst, 52, was charged last month in federal court, accused of diverting nearly $80,000 provided by “Albert and Bertha J" in May 2010 to support a charitable trust for the business school.
The indictment alleges that Telthorst instead used the money to further support a “Ponzi” scheme he devised with several other client-funding sources.
By April 2011, the trust to benefit KU had been drained down to less than $1,800.
In addition, Telthorst was accused of defrauding several other clients of more than $460,000. In one case, Telthorst allegedly diverted $20,000 away from a medical savings account set up to assist a woman’s disabled daughter.
All of the funds diverted were either used for Telthorst’s personal benefit or to replenish funding he had diverted from other clients, the indictment alleges.
As part of a plea deal in the case, prosecutors are recommending a sentence of five years in prison and more than $460,000 in restitution, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the office of U.S. District Attorney for Kansas Barry Grissom.
Telthorst will be sentenced Feb. 19.