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Gambling habit led San Diego probate trustee to steal from clients

February 19, 2011 |  9:06 am

An out-of-control gambling habit spurred a San Diego probate court trustee and licensed private fiduciary to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients, many of them aged or disabled, according to the U.S. attorney.

In pleading guilty Friday to wire fraud and money-laundering, Teresa Laggner admitting spending 165 days in 2010 at the Barona Casino in Lakeside, outside San Diego.

"Unfortunately for herself and her clients, Laggner admitted sustaining gambling losses in excess of $1 million," according to U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy.

Laggner, 56, will be sentenced May 16 in San Diego federal court. Mail fraud carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, money laundering carries a maximum of 10 years. Laggner has also been ordered to pay restitution.

Laggner worked for private trusts and the probate court from 2006 to 2010. She transferred money from her clients' accounts to her own and then withdrew money by cashing checks and using the automated teller machines at the Barona Casino and casinos in Nevada, according to court documents.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego