Fort Lauderdale attorney sentenced to five years in prison

Aug 26, 2011

The following article was published in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on August 26, 2011:

Fort Lauderdale attorney sentenced to five years in prison

A well-known Fort Lauderdale lawyer was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for his role in what federal authorities have described as a sprawling Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors worldwide out of more than $800 million.

Michael J. McNerney, 63, received the stiffest possible prison sentence from U.S. District Judge Adalberto Jordan after admitting his role in the massive Mutual Benefits criminal case.

The co-founder of the law firm once known as Brinkley, McNerney, Morgan, Solomon & Tatum LLP, McNerney had amassed a sterling reputation in the community, serving on the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar and in leadership roles at an array of non-profit organizations. For nearly three decades, he acted as pro-bono legal counsel for the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens in Fort Lauderdale, helping ward off development projects from around the 35-acre estate.

McNerney’s December 2008 indictment stunned his South Florida legal peers — a sentiment echoed in letters sent by more 20 attorneys asking the judge to consider giving him a lenient sentence.

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