Former prominent KC lawyer pleads guilty

 A former prominent Kansas City lawyer today  pleaded guilty in federal court to money laundering.

James C. Wirken, 69, was a principal at the Wirken Law Group in the Country Club Plaza until the Missouri Supreme Court disbarred him two years ago.

He is a former president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association and was active on the legal scene for decades.

According to a press release from federal prosecutors:

In today’s plea, Wirken admitted he withdrew a client’s money from the law firm trust account and used the money for himself.

He wrote six checks between December 2009 and Jan. 13, 2010 for a total of $116,730.

The plea agreement cites a specific incident in which Wirken used $50,000 in client money to repay a loan another client made to Wirken, a loan that had had been in default since 2008.

Wirken could be sentenced later to up to 10 years in prison, plus restitution and a fine.

He surrendered his law license in 2012 after state disciplinary authorities accused him of improperly borrowing about $800,000 from seven clients.

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