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Former Twin Cities attorney Michael S. Margulies pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to wire fraud, admitting that he embezzled $2 million from his former law firm and its clients.

The plea was the result of a deal Margulies, 56, struck with federal prosecutors. U.S. District Judge David Doty accepted the plea and ordered a presentence investigation to help him decide what punishment the former real estate attorney should get when he's sentenced.

Federal sentencing guidelines call for a maximum of 20 years in prison on wire fraud.

Margulies was released until sentencing, with no date set.

The plea came 13 days after Margulies was charged with a single count of wire fraud. The felony charge was the most recent event in a fallen career.

Margulies had been a partner at Lindquist & Vennum, one of the Twin Cities' most prestigious law firms, and he lived in a $1.5 million mansion on St. Paul's Summit Avenue. He was a member of the St. Paul Planning Commission and served on the board of the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

But in March, his law partners determined he was taking money from the firm and some of its clients. They fired him and reported the alleged thefts to authorities. The Minnesota Supreme Court disbarred him in April.

The criminal charge said that from 1994 to this year, Margulies embezzled about $2 million through false documents, false expenses, false invoices and forged checks.




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