A judge sentenced a disbarred personal injury attorney to prison on Monday, more than a year after he pleaded guilty to stealing money from clients to fuel a gambling addiction.
Matthew Dunkley, who was arrested in December 2018, was accused of stealing about $1.8 million from clients over a three-year period, according to his arrest report. He was accused of misappropriating financial settlements his clients were supposed to receive and “malicious” spending of money from insurance companies meant to cover medical liens or treatments, police have said.
He then used the money to gamble, pay for a relationship with an exotic dancer and live “an extravagant lifestyle,” the arrest report stated.
Dunkley pleaded guilty in May 2021 to three felony counts of theft, court records show. He faced nine counts of theft and one count of exploitation of an older or vulnerable person.
During a sentencing hearing on Monday, District Judge Tierra Jones told Dunkley that his actions were offensive to herself and others in the legal community.
“We have a duty to give back. We don’t have a duty to keep taking from these people,” Jones said. “These people counted on you, and you failed them.”
The judge sentenced Dunkley to between four and 10 years in prison, with 505 days’ credit for time served.
After chastising Dunkley for not paying back any victims in the two years since he posted bail, Jones ordered him to pay almost $634,000 in restitution.
“You owe a debt to these people, and you’ve been out for two years and you haven’t paid these people a dime,” the judge said.
Anthony Goldstein, Dunkley’s defense attorney, had asked for his client to be sentenced to probation. He said that in the time since Dunkley’s arrest, he has gotten treatment for his gambling addiction and is currently working as a paralegal.
Dunkley told the judge that he’s tried to change his life since spending 17 months in jail, and he apologized for the thefts.
“It was horrible what I did. There’s no denying that it was horrible,” he said.
Dunkley was disbarred in July 2020, and he consented to the disbarment, according to an order from the Nevada Supreme Court.
According to Dunkley’s arrest report, clients were on the hook for unpaid medical liens, and some owed up to $200,000 after Dunkley illegally transferred the money. Many of the personal injury cases dated to 2012, and one involved a 5-year-old who had been attacked by a dog, police said.
While Dunkley previously told the State Bar of Nevada that he took the funds for gambling, police found that he paid an exotic dancer about $64,000 over three years to act as his “full time girlfriend,” the report said.
Dunkley, who was licensed in 1998, ran a personal injury law firm in Henderson, at 2450 St. Rose Parkway, before he was arrested.
Contact Katelyn Newberg at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.