SANTA ANA – An attorney has been charged with embezzling over $720,000 from his client trust account from two elderly sisters after offering to assist them with their finances following the death of their mother. Peter David Nitschke, 45, Newport Beach, is charged with two felony counts of theft from an elder with sentencing enhancements and allegations for over $100,000 loss, aggravated white collar crime over $500,000, and property loss over $200,000. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 years in state prison. Detectives from the Irvine Police Department (IPD) arrested the defendant this morning. Nitschke is being held on $725,000 bail and is expected to be arraigned tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2012, in Department CJ-1, Central Jail, Santa Ana.
In March 2010, the 95-year-old mother of 65-year-old Diane C. and 69-year-old Virginia C. died, leaving her daughters a home in Northern California and over $675,000 in bank accounts.
Nitschke, a then-Irvine-based attorney, is accused of being friends with the victim’s family and was president of their church congregation, the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Laguna Woods. The defendant is accused of offering to help Diane and Virginia C. settle the financial accounts and directed them to give him cashier’s checks in the amount of all the funds left to them in the bank accounts by their mother. He is accused of stealing over $675,000 from the victims by depositing the money into his personal bank accounts instead of placing it in his client trust account as required by the California State Bar. The defendant is also accused of stealing an additional $46,000 from the victim by failing to return the funds to them from a real estate transaction. Nitschke is accused of then spending the money or hiding it by moving it into other accounts.
In early 2012, the victims’ family inquired with the defendant about the money to assist Diane and Virginia C. with medical and nursing home expenses. Despite the account having been closed with a zero balance, Nitschke is accused of creating a fraudulent bank statement dated that month to falsely show that the funds were in his client trust account.
After becoming suspicious of the defendant’s handling of the accounts, the victim’s called IPD in May 2012.
Deputy District Attorney Sean O’Brien of the White Collar Crime Team is prosecuting the case.
IRVINE POLICE DEPARTMENT
One Civic Center Plaza, Irvine, CA 92606
(949) 724-7000 www.irvinepd.org
"Working In Partnership with the Community"
INTEGRITY - QUALITY SERVICE - ACCOUNTABILITY - RESPECT
Since its incorporation in 1971, Irvine has become a nationally recognized city, with a population of 242,651, spans 66 square miles and is recognized as one of America’s safest and most successful master-planned urban communities. Top-rated educational institutions, an enterprising business atmosphere, sound environmental stewardship, and respect for diversity all contribute to Irvine’s enviable quality of life. This family-friendly city features more than 16,000 acres of parks, sports fields and dedicated open space and is the home of the Orange County Great Park – the first great metropolitan park of the 21st century. For more information, please visit cityofirvine.org.