Portland attorney gets five-plus years, $1 million fine for embezzlement

PORTLAND, Ore. - A Portland attorney must spend more than five years in prison after embezzling $1 million-plus from his clients.

Bryan Gruetter, 55, received 63 months in prison and must pay $1.14 million in restitution for embezzling money from clients between 2008 and 2012. U.S. District Judge Michael McShane issued the sentence on Monday.

Gruetter is a former personal injury lawyer with offices in Portland and Bend. Officials determined that he'd illegally diverted more than $1.1 million of his clients' money to pay for personal and business expenses rather than pay his clients or pay their legal, medical, insurance or other costs.

Gruetter admitted that he'd done so because his firm's monthly income couldn't cover monthly overheads. He resigned his law license two years ago after opting not to challenge the allegations.

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The Oregon State Bar, through the Client Security Fund, has paid more than $900,000 to some of Gruetter's clients.

"As a lawyer, this defendant had a solemn duty to help his clients seek justice," said U. S. Attorney S. Amanda Marshall in a release. "Instead, he betrayed their trust and victimized vulnerable individuals by lying to them and stealing their money. His conduct tarnishes a profession full of hard-working, ethical attorneys who work hard every day helping people solve complex problems. My office will not tolerate this type of behavior from professionals who violate the public's trust in this manner."

The FBI, the IRS, the Deschutes County District Attorney's Office and the Bend Police Department investigated the case, which is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott E. Bradford.