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Embezzler’s wife, not his family, embroiled in unjust enrichment repayment

After a telecommunications company discovered that its chief financial officer had been embezzling from the company, a St. Louis County judge and jury awarded the company $2.4 million.

CMS Communications sued its CFO Ramon “Trey” Luina in 2017 after discovering that he had embezzled nearly $2.8 million in funds. Luina faced claims of fraud, money had and received, and breach of fiduciary duty. Both Luina and his wife Susan also were sued for unjust enrichment and transferring assets to defraud creditors. The company, represented by Rob Schultz of The Schultz Law Group, also alleged that the family trust was liable for the last two counts, as well as the parents of the couple.

“The evidence was that of the $2.8 million roughly that Trey stole, all of it was spent,” Schultz said.

The Luinas had bought a home in Chesterfield during that time for $350,000. Schultz said he argued that the wife was unjustly enriched because she lived in the home, and the jury considered just over half that amount when it determined what she owed.

The Luinas also had sold a lake house near Perryville at market value to their parents. Schultz determined that the Luinas had spent $700,000 on the house before its sale, and that Luina “contaminated” the appraisal by claiming he had spent below that.

The defendants’ attorney was not available for comment. Schultz said the defendants did not contest the embezzlement charges against Luina but claimed that the others did not know about it and should not be held liable.

After a four-day trial, Judge Stanley Wallach delivered a directed verdict in favor of the couple’s children and the family trust on some counts, while ordering Luina to pay a total of $2,240,669, which accounted for the $552,355 that the Luinas had repaid.

The jury deliberated for about three hours before finding against Susan Luina for unjust enrichment of $177,000. The other defendants, including the Luina Family Trust and the couple’s parents, were held not liable.