Disbarred Jacksonville attorney charged with grand theft, fraud

Christopher Ochoa being held on $5 million bond.

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A Jacksonville attorney disbarred in May has been arrested and charged with grand theft and organized fraud.

Christopher Ochoa, 32, who appeared in court Thursday at the Duval County jail, was placed under $5 million bond and remains incarcerated.

Ochoa was disbarred by the state Supreme Court, based on a complaint filed with The Florida Bar by an attorney in Los Angeles who represented an asset management company.

According to the disbarment investigation, Ochoa was found to have deposited $1.25 million into his trust account from the management company that was intended to be used to secure a “standby letter of credit” that would be provided by a client of Ochoa’s.

According to testimony from the Los Angeles attorney during the disbarment investigation, the investment was expected to be “monetized and leveraged and multiplied” and projected to return $40 million to $50 million in six to eight weeks.

The investigation determined that Ochoa violated the terms of the investment contract and began immediately to disburse funds from the trust account, including $10,000 to himself as an attorney fee.

The investigation of Ochoa’s bank records concluded that one day after he accepted the $1.25 million wire transfer into his trust account, the money was no longer in the account.

It also was determined that Ochoa did not properly maintain records of his trust account, a factor that led to his disbarment.

About two months after the trust account deposit, Ochoa notified the investor’s attorney that the deal had experienced difficulty in obtaining a “monetizer” but a new monetizer was in place and the transaction was anticipated to close in five weeks.

The investor advised Ochoa in writing that the new closing date was unacceptable and demanded the return of his client’s $1.25 million investment.

A complaint against Ochoa was filed with The Florida Bar on Aug. 15, 2017.

He was disbarred May 3 for violating the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct and directed by the court to return $1.25 million to the investor.

If he makes bond, Ochoa will be required to forfeit his passport and wear a GPS tracking device.