ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. -- A lawyer from Englewood Cliffs admitted Monday that she created bogus businesses with her husband to steal $7.8 million from two high-powered law firms.
Keila Ravelo, 52, took a deal offered by the government two weeks before her trial was supposed to begin, pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and tax evasion.
Her lawyer, Lawrence Lustberg, had blamed it all on Ravelo's now-estranged husband, Melvin Feliz, 51.
Feliz took a plea deal of his own two years ago, first admitting that he conspired with two other men to distribute 20 or so kilograms of cocaine. He then pleaded guilty to using bogus litigation support companies to steal the money with his wife.
Ravelo admitted Monday that she and Feliz formed two limited liability companies that purported to provide litigation support for Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP and Hunton & Williams but, in fact, provided no actual services, authorities said. She'd been a partner with both.
Ravelo approved invoices submitted by her husband, and then both used the proceeds for personal expenses, Acting U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick said.
Among the items federal prosecutors were seeking to have forfeited as the fruits of ill-gotten gains were the couple's $2.3 million home in Englewood Cliffs, a $1 million condo in Miami and other property -- as well as a 2009 Bentley Continental Flying Spur sedan valued at upwards of $80,000.
Fitzpatrick credited law enforcement officers of the Drug Enforcement Administration, Newark Division, and the IRS-Criminal Investigation with the probe leading to today’s plea, secured by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew Kogan, Brian Urbano and Ronnell Wilson, along with AUSAs Jafer Aftab and Barbara Ward, acting chief of the his office’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Unit.
U.S. District Judge Kevin McNulty scheduled a March 5 sentencing for Ravelo in federal court in Newark.
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