Lori Deveny Guilty on 36 Counts of Aggravated Theft and Other Charges
Prosecutors bargained away most other charges, including forgery and criminal mistreatment
Today, former Portland, Oregon attorney Lori Deveny changed her plea to guilty in 36 of the 92 criminal charges brought against her, including the 28 counts of aggravated theft in the first degree, the most serious of the many charges she faced. Aggravated theft is a class B felony.
Deveny also pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft in the first degree, and one count of identity theft, both class C felonies.
Deveny, who stole at least $3.4 million from her vulnerable personal injury clients through forgery and deception, was deemed indigent in June 2019, and received public defense funds through the beleaguered Office of Public Defense Services. While current figures are not known, as of April 2021, Deveny’s attorney Wayne Mackeson had received over $20,000 to handle her case.
There were technological problems with today’s hearing in Multnomah County Circuit Court, and the recently retired Judge Jerry B. Hodson apologized for the expired link that was sent to interested observers — which I disseminated — and thanked everyone for their patience. After a brief pause in the hearing, the livestream issues were resolved, but because of those issues, only the tail end of the hearing was observed.
Mackeson and his partner Kelly Delphius appeared with Deveny and requested that her electronic monitoring device be removed, stating that they didn’t think it was “necessary” anymore.
Judge Hodson denied their request, stating, “The stakes are significantly high that [the ankle monitor] should remain in place.”
Prosecutors also revealed that the state will be asking for a 20-year sentence for Deveny, who committed much of her theft and fraud while president of the influential Oregon Women Lawyers and Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation specialty bar associations.
Judge Hodson expressed logistical concerns about the sheer number of victims and witnesses who would need to appear and give impact statements. “We’ve gotten pretty good at knowing how many people fit in the courtroom,” due to Covid, he stated, “and 50 starts to get crowded.” Sentencing could last as many as six judicial days.
In exchange for whatever cooperation and information that Deveny gave authorities during the three+ years that have passed since her arrest in May 2019, prosecutors dropped 56 charges, including: all 24 counts of forgery in the first degree; all three counts of criminal mistreatment; 23 counts of identity theft; four counts of aggravated theft; and two counts of theft.
All 37 victims named in the state’s 2019 indictment still remain, albeit most with only one charge — theft or aggravated theft — related to their loss. In the case of victim Laurie Kelly, Deveny also pleaded guilty to identity theft; and in the cases of Kali Miller and Kevin Hamell, Deveny pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated theft.
Deveny and prosecutors are free to argue for whatever sentence they believe is appropriate. Aggravated theft is punishable by a maximum 10 years in prison and $250,000 fine, but realistically, those familiar with the case — and with Oregon’s “weak felony embezzlement laws” — believe that Deveny will only serve 5 or 6 years.
Kali Miller, one of the three victims of multiple guilty counts, told me, “It’s disappointing in the extreme that the state chose to drop Lori Deveny’s forgery charges as that is precisely how she stole my money. Her forgery allowed her to cash my checks while stringing me along for over a year with the story that both insurance companies hadn’t sent the promised checks.”
Miller continued, “Lori told many detailed lies of her valiant efforts to get the checks, as well as settle liens, which she never did. Meanwhile, my once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy a home close to my family in California to help me deal with my head injury slipped through my fingers, as Lori under-settled my cases so she could get quick cash to go on safari.”
Other victims may never get the opportunity to tell the court how Deveny’s conduct impacted their lives — such as Jeffrey Furches, a permanently disabled Marine Corps veteran from whom the disgraced attorney stole at least a half million dollars. Deveny used Furches as her personal servant while occasionally paying him with cans of beans or rolls of change.