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BILLINGS - A former Billings attorney who was convicted of stealing money from clients in 1987 was sentenced to 1½ years in federal prison for taking about $17,000 from two more clients.

Marvin E. "Toby" Alback, 62, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull for wire fraud and bankruptcy fraud. Cebull also fined Alback $5,000, ordered 60 hours of community service and said he would determine restitution later.

"I'm just very sorry for what I did," Alback told the court.

Alback was charged with taking a mortgage payment from clients who had filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and not forwarding the payment to the bank.

Alback eventually repaid the money but caused the couple to pay back payments and late fees to avoid foreclosure, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Archer said.

Alback also was accused of taking their $557 tax refund check rather than depositing it with the bankruptcy estate.

Archer called Alback's actions an extreme abuse of trust because he stole money from clients who were already having financial difficulties.

In August 2009, Alback was accused of forging the name of a client on a $12,500 settlement check and depositing it into his account. The client received a check for her portion of the settlement in October 2009, but it bounced and she has not received any money that was paid to settle the lawsuit, prosecutors said.

The federal case was the second time Alback was convicted of misappropriating client funds. In 1987, Alback was convicted in state court of felony theft for taking more than $95,000 from two clients while he worked in Bozeman. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison with 13 suspended.

Alback was disbarred then reinstated in 2000. He permanently resigned his license in September.

 

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