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Prison for ex-paralegal who secretly settled cases

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A former California paralegal who admitted stealing $327,000 from her law firm and its clients by secretly settling their cases and pocketing their funds has been sentenced to two years and three months in federal prison.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports (http://bit.ly/TS05Hi ) 42-year-old Ana Lissa Reyes was also ordered Thursday to reimburse her victims and pay an additional $67,448 to the Internal Revenue Service for tax evasion.

Reyes worked for 17 years as a secretary, office manager and paralegal for attorney Brian Ching, who had offices in Alameda and Union City.

Prosecutors say Reyes contacted defendants who had been sued by Ching's clients, claimed to be acting for the firm in negotiating settlements, and kept the money.

She pleaded guilty in April to mail fraud and tax evasion.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com

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