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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Lawyer in fraud case sentenced

By David Waite
Advertiser Courts Writer

Former Honolulu attorney John Chanin was sentenced by federal Judge Susan Oki Mollway yesterday to three years probation and six months home detention and was fined $3,000 for defrauding a client out of $20,000 from a settlement.

Chanin pleaded guilty in September to mail fraud in the case.

When Chanin pleaded guilty, U.S. Attorney Ed Kubo said Chanin had received $20,000 as an out-of-court settlement on behalf of his client on Aug. 28, 1997. Chanin claimed he had deposited the money in a trust fund for his client, but he actually placed it into his business account, Kubo said.

"I know what I did was wrong," Chanin told Mollway yesterday. But he said having federal charges brought against him "was the best thing that could have happened to me."

Chanin, who specialized in bankruptcy cases, said he realized he was no longer practicing law, but had become "a collection agency."

Since he resigned from his law practice, he has turned to teaching, Chanin said.

Mollway said she would allow Chanin to serve his term of probation in Virginia so that he can continue to teach. She gave Chanin, who filed for bankruptcy before being convicted, 180 days to pay the fine, after which he will be charged 6 percent interest.