Cleveland attorney sentenced for bilking clients
A longtime Cleveland attorney was sentenced Tuesday to more than two years in prison after he admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from several of his clients, including an elderly Korean War veteran.
Judge Nancy Fuerst ordered 65-year-old Teddy Sliwinski to pay back more than $327,000 that he stole from four clients with the help of his then-wife, Irene Patkowski, who was sentenced to 15 days in jail and 18 months probation for her role in the scheme.
"You preyed on these individuals and the estates that suffered here," Fuerst told Sliwinski in court. "You have an obligation to protect the people you represent from this exact situation."
Sliwinski, who was represented by public defender Michael Heffernan, pleaded guilty Nov. 3 to aggravated theft and tampering with records, both third-degree felonies. Patkowski pleaded guilty to a lesser aggravated theft charge and attempted tampering with records.
In addition to her jail time and probation, Patkowski must pay $60,000 in restitution.
Sliwinski was once a pillar of Cleveland's Polish community whose attorney said was once in the running to be nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Poland. Sliwinski admitted in court that he and Patkowski used money from his clients as a personal credit line to save Sliwinski's sinking Slavic Village law practice amid the housing collapse.
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