Disbarred SoCal Lawyer Sentenced to 12 Years for Stealing from Client

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A disbarred personal injury lawyer who operated in Irvine, Los Angeles and El Segundo was sentenced to 12 years behind bars today for stealing the majority of a multimillion-dollar settlement that should have been paid to a car accident victim, as well as cheating on his taxes.

Philip Layfield was found guilty of 22 counts, including wire fraud, mail fraud, tax evasion, failure to collect and pay over payroll taxes and failure to file a tax return, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Following the August 2021 jury verdicts in Los Angeles federal court, the 48-year-old Layfield was remanded into federal custody.

After he had misappropriated millions of dollars from clients’ settlements, Layfield relocated to Costa Rica. Just before getting on a flight headed there, Layfield borrowed $700,000 from a business lender by providing misleading information and failing to disclose material information.

He then used substantial portions of the loan proceeds for personal expenses, including buying and shipping horses to Costa Rica, evidence showed.

In 2016, Layfield entered into an agreement to represent an individual who was struck by an automobile in Orange County and suffered significant injuries. After negotiating a $3.9 million settlement related to the accident, Layfield misappropriated most of the money owed to the victim — about $2 million — for personal and business uses, including to pay clients whose settlement proceeds Layfield had earlier misappropriated.

The car accident victim received only $25,000 of the settlement proceeds. Layfield also failed to file a federal income tax return for the tax year 2016, despite receiving more than $3 million, including embezzled client settlement money. He also caused his law firm to not pay about $120,976 in payroll taxes to the United States government for the second quarter of 2017.

The State Bar of California disbarred Layfield in October 2018. He also was a certified public accountant, but his CPA license expired in July 2019.

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