Suspended Florence lawyer indicted on federal charges

The United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina announced Wednesday that William Rivers, III of Florence has been charged in a three count indictment with Mail Fraud.

The indictment says between October 2006 to November 2012 Rivers and his late law partner John Schurlknight failed to tell clients when their cases had been settled and failed to pay the clients' medical providers, but instead forged clients' signatures on releases and kept all of the money received in the clients' settlement.

Rivers and Schurlknight were partners at the Schurlknight and Rivers Law Firm in Florence, which is no longer in operation.

Rivers was suspended from practicing law by the South Carolina Supreme Court last December following complaints filed by former clients about missing money.

The indictment says Rivers did knowingly cause to be delivered by United States mail a letter regarding settlement of a claim of an individual being represented by his law firm.

Rivers' former partner, the late John Schurlknight, is accused of stealing between $6 to $10 million dollars from 22 of his clients.

He died in November 2012.

Those clients have filed a class-action lawsuit against Schurlknight's estate.

The lawsuit says Schurlknight's scheme was similar to the one operated by Bernnie Madoff , the lawsuit says, with the exception that Madoff stole client investment money, while Schurlknight stole clients' personal injury recoveries or settlement money.

Schurlknight would settle or otherwise resolve clients' personal injury claims without a client's knowledge, forge the client's name to a settlement check and steal 100% of the proceeds, the suit says.

Rivers is not named in that lawsuit.

If convicted on the federal charges, he could be receive up to 20 years in prison.

Rivers is expected to have his initial appearance in federal court next month.

We will keep you posted on what happens.