Lori Deveny State Sentencing Updates
Check back daily for brief dispatches during multi-day hearing
Former Oregon attorney Lori Deveny is currently being sentenced in the state’s criminal case against her. The hearing began today and is slated for for the next seven business days. Dozens of Deveny’s victims will testify, along with various professionals who worked on the case for the prosecution or for Deveny’s defense.
Every day, I will post an update in this thread with a few of the day’s highlights and lowlights, and my high level thoughts/insight about the whole mess. Keep checking back!
Day 1: January 26
Special prosecutors from the Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office are handling Lori Deveny’s case for Multnomah. First Assistant DA Scott Healy filed an exceptional sentencing memorandum prior to this hearing, which was equal parts bunker-busting and heart wrenching. It managed to make sense out of decades of senselessness.
In their opening statement, Deputy DA Jeffrey Nitschke uttered one of the hearing’s most powerful sentences, after remarking how there were no other criminal cases to which they could compare Deveny’s crime spree: “Simply put, this case has no precedent, so the state is asking for a precedential sentence.” 20 years is what the state wants.
Deveny’s defense attorney, Wayne Mackeson, leaned heavily on Deveny’s purported victimhood by her deceased husband, who conveniently can no longer defend his own reputation. Mackeson also related a personal story in which his grandma was mugged and became scared to leave the house, and Mackeson would have “asked for the death penalty and happily pulled the switch on him.” (Deveny should be grateful this isn’t a jury trial.)
Portland Police Bureau Detective Brian Sitton testified at length about his investigation, which involved wading through thousands of financial transactions.
The biggest news came from Sitton’s testimony, when he confirmed that Deveny had settled a disabled Marine Corps veteran’s personal injury case for a third of what it was actually worth. How did Sitton learn this? He’d obtained internal emails from the insurance company discussing how quickly they needed to accept Deveny’s $1.3 million lowball offer, because the claim was worth over $5 million.
Again, how the **** can anyone associated with this case say with a straight face that Lori Deveny earned her 33.3%?
Four of Deveny’s victims testified, with emotion, strength, and dignity. There are many more to go, and their stories are tough to hear. Special shout out for the victim who called Deveny a psychopath, and the other who referred to Deveny’s constant excuses as some “similar shade of bullshitery.”
Day 2: January 27
Eleven more of Lori Deveny’s former personal injury clients testified against her today, sharing with the court their individual horror stories — which are all eerily familiar yet still manage to surprise.
A common theme was how many of these victims had hired Deveny because of a friend’s recommendation, had recommended her to others, and were repeat clients who had suffered multiple accidents. Many also donated their time to Deveny’s various charities, and thought of the former attorney as a good acquaintance.
There was also a striking similarity in how regularly Deveny worked to isolate her victims — from their caregivers, their insurance companies, and even their own families. One young woman recounted how Deveny held their meetings at a pizza parlor, advised her to open a new bank account (separate from her parents), and get a P.O. box so that nobody could access her mail. Another recounted Deveny yelling at him when he tried to contact a doctor directly, instead of going through her. Ironically, after desperately trying to contact Deveny at her office, she accused him of being a harasser. The final victim to testify today stated that Deveny barked at him for questioning her judgment.
Several of the victims made pointed remarks when asked what they believed an appropriate sentence would be. One, who had recently become blind, said, “Lori, I would really like to see that smile wiped off your face.” Another thought that a 20-year sentence was “a little light,” and stated his concern that she would practice law in jail. He felt that 4,000 hours of community service would be a good use of her time.
One expressed that she didn’t think Deveny “felt any remorse for any of the things that she did.” That same victim also expressed, “I was just disgusted… especially after I found out what she was doing with the money [she stole] and the lies about her husband and how he died.”
The hurt and sense of betrayal was evident in all of their statements, combined with a sense of mistrust for attorneys. Most poignantly, one victim expressed how she felt as though she failed her daughter — another victim — because she didn’t trust the daughter’s gut instinct upon meeting Deveny. Her gut said get out: Lori’s office “felt a little ‘James Bond villain,’” because of all the dead animals.
Day 3: January 30
Another ten of Lori Deveny’s victims gave testimony in Multnomah court today, putting faces and voices to the horrific stories that we’ve heretofore only read about.
But before the victims could take the stand, Deveny’s defense attorney Wayne Mackeson claimed that one of the victims had “attempted to engage” Deveny during the federal sentencing hearing a few weeks ago, and then requested that Judge Jerry B. Hodson instruct that victim “not to do so today.” Mackeson seemed to be suggesting that Deveny felt somehow threatened by the engagement.
On the stand, each of the ten victims spoke about being referred to Deveny through a coworker, friend, or doctor; and being impressed by her online presence, as a former president of Oregon Women Lawyers. Many recounted volunteering for her pet charities and being invested in her personal problems such as sick pets and parents.
Deveny’s act quickly soured, and she turned to high-pressure sales tactics, threats, and insults. In the end, all were grievously injured by Deveny’s fraud, forgery, and theft. You could even say that some of them were maimed by her crime spree.
Three of the victims were difficult to listen to without crying along with them and their heart wrenching testimony.
Nancy Freyer hired Deveny to file a malpractice claim against a doctor who had surgically removed bones from her foot without her consent, leaving her in a wheelchair. Not only did Deveny botch the suit, she provided Freyer’s daily journals to the doctor’s lawyers, which were used against her during a deposition — a stunning breach of duty, on top of the theft and forgery.
Freyer ended up with just over $10,000. “That’s all I got for not being able to walk for the rest of my life.” Freyer is now in low-income housing and expects to be out of money in a year. She is rightfully terrified for what the future holds for her.
Due to a combination of bad auto accidents and Deveny’s malevolent representation, Kali Miller lost her livelihood as a child psychologist specializing in children who were abused and traumatized. Over the years, Deveny jerked Miller around while bandying about lower and lower settlement numbers — all as Miller could no longer keep her business open, feed or house herself and her therapy cat, or even keep herself warm. Of her dwindling settlement offers, Deveny told Miller that she “wasn’t worth much anymore.”
Eventually, Miller started calling around to find a new lawyer to handle Deveny’s conduct, only to have three of them tell her that she “must be confused,” and that Deveny “was above reproach” in the community. That attorney then broke Miller’s confidentiality and called Deveny — sending Miller right back to her abuser.
Miller said, “I guess you can quantify an amount of jail time for stealing money, forgery, lying etc., but how do you quantify betraying someone’s trust? How do you quantify having a broken brain and putting all your hope in the hands of someone who crushes your spirit?”
The final blow to Miller came long after Deveny’s arrest, when the full scope of her schemes had become apparent: In mediation, Deveny’s malpractice attorney preyed upon Miller’s career helping child victims, by telling her that any penny Miller fought for was going to take away from a minor sex-abuse victim that Deveny had also stolen from. Miller was crushed.
Strangely, Wayne Mackeson then asked Miller a few questions, apparently attempting to poke holes in the head-injured victim’s story. He should be reminded that his client already pleaded guilty to all of these crimes.
Closing out the day was Angi McFarland, who, along with her husband Jaime, suffered a horrifying accident in 2006. Deveny strung the family along for thirteen years, by offering up her usual litany of excuses, bullshit, and psychological terror. Deveny stole over $300,000 from the couple — but who even knows if their claims were worth more?
Despite receiving small payouts from the Oregon State Bar’s Client Security Fund, Ms. McFarland had harsh words for the Bar:
We are incredibly frustrated at the massive failure of the bar association for their failure to hold Lori Deveny fully accountable for the fraud and the thefts. The fact that Lori was allowed to keep records and assets after being disbarred was a travesty against every victim. This massive failure to hold Lori accountable gave this vile and deceitful criminal opportunity to continue to spread her falsehoods and hide her assets. The bar association actually sent us boxes of files with other victims’ case records included. [The Bar] failed to even do a cursory examination of all the files and records that Lori eventually released to them. I received and documented medical records and statements belonging to up to 4 other alleged victims. Who knows what else Lori was able to hide because of these blunders.
McFarland concluded, “I will never be satisfied until Lori Deveny rots in prison. May she endure just a fraction of the hell she put our family through.”
At least one Oregon Women Lawyer (and former Deveny mentee) was lurking on the hearing webcast today and Friday. I urge the organization to mobilize and help these poor people who Deveny victimized while president of the group.
January 31 — court not in session
Day 4: February 1
There were several gripping moments and major revelations from today’s final day of testimony and closing arguments.
IRS Agent Katherine Fearn testified that Lori Deveny received a $440,000 death benefit for her husband Robert’s suspicious death in March 2018, which she then used to frantically pay off victims. When asked if Robert’s photography studio was a functioning business, Fearn stated “It doesn’t appear so.” Yet the disgraced former attorney spent over $100,000 on rent payments for her husband’s apparent hobby… and $44,000 to AT&T… and $25,000 each at Best Buy and Amazon.
Fearn said that she saw no evidence that Robert had ever made withdrawals from Lori’s lawyer trust account, despite being on the account’s signature card. The IRS agent also clearly stated that Lori kept “meticulous” accounting records — directly contradicting the Oregon State Bar’s repeated assertions that her records were sloppy.
Deveny’s psychological evaluator, Dr. Jennifer Johnson, stated that Deveny came across as “well-intentioned and trustworthy” during their three brief interviews — which were conducted over zoom — highlighting precisely how easy it is for a determined malefactor to subvert such an evaluation. Johnson also noted that Deveny said that it was as early as 2001 that she could no longer keep up with her lavish lifestyle, far earlier than previously acknowledged.
Under cross-examination, Dr. Johnson appeared to indicate that Deveny began therapy right after Robert’s death — with the same mental health professional her husband had gone to. There, Deveny laid the foundation for her claims of abuse that Dr. Johnson’s report was built on, along with a few medical records that are now under seal.
After admitting to knowing very little about the underlying criminal offenses, Dr. Johnson sped out of the courtroom after her dismissal. Enough said about that.
In his closing remarks, First Assistant District Attorney Scott Healy apparently disagreed with the doctor’s assessment of Deveny, implying that she was a sociopath, or had “sociopathic tendencies,” whose crime spree amounted to a “series of assault in the second degrees.”
“Her conduct was weaponized,” Healy continued. “Frankly, there’s those that argue 25 or 30 or true life” would be appropriate.
Healy called Deveny’s crying in the courtroom “crocodile tears,” stating that “these are not tears for her victims, they’re not tears for what she did. They are tears because she got caught and now she’s facing a significant prison sentence which justice dictates… and she’s still trying to manipulate the situation.”
Perhaps the biggest bombshell from today’s hearing came when Healy referred to “the conduct between she and her husband, we have no way of knowing, he’s no longer here to refute that… although I will say she took the insurance money that she got from his death and tried to stay afloat…. So I think law enforcement might look at that situation — that is his death — through a different lens today, than maybe they didn’t at the time.”
Deveny’s defense attorney, Wayne Mackeson, referred to her life as “a living hell,” and attempted to liken it to the story about the frog in a saucepan on the stove as the heat is gradually increased. “And that’s what happened here. Robert Deveny turned on the burner of the stove and Ms. Deveny was burned alive.” Mackeson called her a rape survivor and a survivor of domestic abuse.
She then read a statement that was nearly identical to the one she made in federal court earlier this month, and reiterated her claims about psychological and physical threats made against her, for which she has not supplied proof.
In the end, Judge Jerry Hodson’s sentence of 14 years fell short of the 20 year “precedential sentence” that the state was asking for, and took into account that Deveny “was in an abusive relationship.”
Healy told me, “The State is happy the defendant is finally sentenced and there is closure for all her victims, and everyone associated with the case. We respect Judge Hodson’s sentence and hope this serves as a deterrent to anyone in a similar position that is contemplating such predatory conduct against similarly vulnerable victims.”
Angi McFarland, one of Deveny’s 135 victims, told me, “It was an incredibly anti-climactic ending. There really is not a long enough sentence for us to feel any sense of justice. We continue to lack any faith in our failed legal system.”
She continued, “I hope that the [Bar’s] client protection fund settles with more of her victims, and without the hassle we experienced. I would like to see that followed up on first most. Then, I would hope that there is some way to organize support for Lori’s victim’s. These people need more help. Navigating this has been a tremendous burden on us, and I see now how fortunate we are to have a support system.” But, she added, “At least it’s finally over.”
Jaime McFarland, who was jerked around by Deveny since 2007, added that he was “Disappointed. [The sentence is] less time than she lied to us. Less than 2 months per victim.”
Kali Miller, who testified on Monday, told me, “I am disappointed by a 14 year sentence and concerned that it will be vastly reduced as Lori Deveny certainly knows how to play the game. Just as multiple attorneys refused to believe me when I first reported her thefts and forgeries in 2016, I doubt the system will see her coming.”
Robert’s daughter Sarah said, “I think Lori is only making abuse claims against my Dad to get it on the record so that if she is later charged in his death she can refer back to her bogus claims in her defense. She is only out for herself and is thinking ahead.”
His daughter Shannon said, “Her apology was total crap. Her victims lives aren’t the only ones she ruined. She totally rewrote 20 years of our [family’s] history.” She continued, “The thing that pissed me off the most was the comment about going back to [when Lori met Robert] and starting over. So she’s just going to throw it all away. It’s like none of it existed or mattered ever to her.”
Shannon had particulary harsh words for Deveny’s attorney: “I saw red when her lawyer insinuated that multiple people viewed my Dad as odious, like he’s not representing a woman who stole multiple millions from people down on their luck.”