Suspended lawyer agrees to plead guilty to bilking clients

William Rivers, III,

William Rivers, III, has agreed to plead guilty Monday to mail fraud in a scheme to defraud or obtain money by false and fraudulent representations, according to federal court documents.

Rivers faces 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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.

Rivers is not named in that lawsuit.

A sentencing guidelines report will be prepared before Rivers is sentenced.