Former NY firm partner gets five years in jail for stealing millions

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A disgraced former partner at two of America’s largest law firms has been sentenced to five years in prison for stealing US$7.8m of firm and client money.

Keila Ravelo, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and tax evasion, was sentenced by US District Court Judge Kevin McNulty on Wednesday. She was also sentenced to an additional three years of supervised release.

The 52-year-old New Jersey woman was a partner at Hunton Williams from 2005 to 2010 and Willkie Farr & Gallagher from 2010 to 2014. According to case filings and court statements, Ravelo and her husband, Melvin Feliz, conspired to defraud both firms from 2008 to 2014.

The now-estranged couple formed two vendor companies, through which they funnelled payments for work that was never performed for the firms or their clients. The New Jersey district attorney said in a statement that Ravelo approved the payments to both vendor companies, which she and Feliz later used for personal expenses. They also did not report the earnings on their tax returns.

Prosecutors had earlier described the couple having a “lifestyle of the rich and famous.” They said that Ravelo had several properties in New York, New Jersey, and Florida and bought art, jewellery, private jet rides, and vacations.

Ravelo and Feliz were arrested in December 2014. Feliz pleaded guilty in 2015 and was sentenced to four years in prison.