Kelli Hogue Mauro gave legal advice free of charge. Unfortunately, she wound up needing some legal advice of her own. Last September 20, Mauro, former executive director of the Birmingham (Ala.) Volunteer Lawyers Program, was sentenced in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee to five years of probation and five years of home confinement for embezzling more than $35,000 from the program, which is partly funded by Legal Services Corporation. She also will have to pay residual restitution in the amount of $10,228.32 and a fine of $10,000. Mauro had pleaded guilty in April after being charged two days earlier that month in an information count. The actions follow an investigation by LSC’s Office of Inspector General.
According to prosecutors, Mauro, now 48, a resident of Birmingham, during January 1, 2012-August 31, 2012 conducted about 100 separate transactions totaling $35,116 that benefited herself and her family. The investigation began in August of that year when a “very concerned intern” told Legal Services Alabama that Mauro and another program employee were diverting funds for personal uses. Her restitution order was for less than a third of what she had stolen because she had repaid (or returned) over $20,000 of the proceeds and had been credited for nearly $3,800 in previously unreimbursed expenses. The offenses took place in Alabama, but it was the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Tennessee that filed the charge.