PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A Pinellas County lawyer was arrested Monday and accused of stealing more than $840,000 from clients to fuel his drug problems, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Bob Gualtieri took center stage Monday to announce the arrest of Christopher Reynolds, who began his own personal injury law practice in 2015 and worked as a “car wreck lawyer.”
Authorities said Reynolds was supposed to refer his clients, mostly victims of car accidents, to medical providers under a “letter of protection.” He was then tasked with billing the charges to the insurance companies of at-fault drivers.
However, in early October 2022, deputies received a complaint from a car accident victim who was represented by Reynolds. The victim said she maintained steady communication with Reynolds until her case neared its end — That’s when authorities said Reynolds would cut communication.
Upon calling her insurance company, the victim learned Reynolds settled the case in March 2022 for $100,000. The woman was never awarded for her injuries.
Gualtieri said Reynolds forged the woman’s signature on settlement documents without paying her medical bills or transferring her settlement money.
During an investigation, deputies learned the Florida Bar was already conducting an investigation into the systemic theft by Reynolds.
“We identified that Reynolds stole over $840,000 in client money from 16 people,” Gualtieri said. “This represents the people we have identified so far.”
In December 2022, the Florida Supreme Court issued an emergency suspension order of Reynolds’ license to practice in Florida.
Further investigation found that Reynolds used part of the funds to enable his drug use.
“It is believed at least a portion of the stolen money was used to buy drugs,” Gualtieri said. “His Bank records show he spent over $30,000 on the website OnlyFans, over $25,000 on the anonymous billing site, MMbill, almost $400K on PayPal, and over $24,000 on Uber.”
Reynolds was arrested Monday on multiple counts of grand theft and money laundering.
“This is a situation where you got somebody that’s supposed to help people. That’s sticking it to them and taking their money,” Gualtieri said. “It’s just really a terrible situation.”
Anyone who believes they may be a victim is asked to contact the sheriff’s office.