Christopher Reynolds was arrested on Monday morning and is charged with grand theft and money laundering.
LARGO, Fla. — A Pinellas County lawyer is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from several clients over the course of six years.
Christopher Reynolds, 44, primarily practiced as a car injury lawyer, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a news conference Monday.
With his work, clients who came to Reynolds for his service would be referred to other doctors under a letter of protection, Gualtieri said. After he took his clients’ intake, he created a financial demand on the at-fault drivers’ insurance company.
“The doctors treat these people under the letter of protection and the lawyer then negotiates some medical bills with the doctor based on the settlement amount in the case,” Gualtieri explained. “Then the lawyer gets paid, the doctor gets paid and the injured person gets compensated for their injuries.”
However, according to the sheriff, a woman who went to Reynolds for help from 2020 to mid-2022 told authorities that he was trying to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company but then all of a sudden, she never heard back from him.
The woman then reportedly went to contact the insurance company herself in October 2022 and learned that the company had settled her case with Reynolds back in March 2022 for $100,000 and that she was ongoing in trying to solve this with the insurance company
“He pocketed the woman’s $100,000 and continuously lied to her in the communications before it abruptly stopped that he was ongoing in trying to solve this with the insurance company,” Gualtieri said. “He also forged the woman’s name on settlement documents and he never paid her medical bills with the settlement money.”
Authorities would go on to investigate the incident after receiving the woman’s report and found that 16 other people, who have also come forward to the sheriff’s office, used Reynolds as their personal injury lawyer as far back as 2019 and did the same thing that the woman experience, Gualtieri said.
“We identified that Reynolds stole over $850,000 in client money from 16 people,” the sheriff said. “They [the clients] are now personally responsible for the medical bills and that totals hundreds of thousands of dollars additionally that they’re on the hook for.
“In fact, one of the victims already had a lien against her from one of the medical providers.”
Guatieri also revealed at the news conference that the 44-year-old allegedly had a drug problem and he used a portion of the stolen money was used to purchase drugs. He also reportedly spent over $30,000 on pornography and almost $424,000 on prostitution.
Reynolds was arrested on Monday morning and is charged with grand theft and money laundering.
“We strongly believe that there are additional victims who have not come forward,” Gualtieri said. “We ask that anyone who was victimized by Reynolds and was not reported to please come forward and we’ll take the complaint and investigate the case.”
People can file a report against Reynolds by contacting the sheriff’s office’s economic crime section at 727-582-6200.