Sixty-nine year old James Wirken of Kansas City waived his right to a grand jury and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan to federal information charging him with one count of money laundering.
Wirken was a lawyer and principal at The Wirken Law Group until he was disbarred by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2012.
By pleading guilty today, Wirken admitted that he withdrew money from his law firmâ€™s trust account, which was being held for the benefit of a client, and deposited the funds into his law firmâ€™s operating account. Wirken then used the funds for his personal benefit. All of the transactions were conducted without the clientâ€™s consent.
Wirken wrote six checks between December 2009 and Jan. 13, 2010, totaling $116,730.
Todayâ€™s plea agreement cites the specific incident in which Wirken transferred $51,000 into the law firmâ€™s operating account, then directed an employee to purchase a $50,000 cashierâ€™s check from that account. The $50,000 cashierâ€™s check was to repay a loan that another client had made to Wirken, which had been in default since Oct. 2, 2008.
Under federal statutes, Wirken is subject to a sentence of up to 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 (or not more than twice the amount of the criminally derived property) and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.