Lawyer Convicted of Embezzling $200,000

A lawyer was convicted Tuesday of embezzling about $200,000 from 10 clients between 1984 and 1987 by settling their cases without telling them and pocketing their awards.

Michael Steven Kotzker, 44, of Los Angeles was convicted by a Superior Court jury on 10 counts of grand theft and one count of forgery. The jurors, who deliberated eight days, were deadlocked on six other counts, which the judge dismissed at the prosecutor’s request.

Kotzker practiced law for 12 years, specializing in personal injury lawsuits and criminal defense. He was arrested in February, 1988, and disbarred after several clients filed complaints against him.

He faces a maximum sentence of nine years in jail when he is sentenced Jan. 4 by Superior Court Judge Valerie Baker.


“He would settle a case without the consent of his client, or the victim, then deposit the (settlement) money in his trust account and never reimburse the client or let the client know he settled,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Don Tamura.