Wednesday, October 3, 2018

LOS ANGELES—A South Los Angeles attorney—who once represented former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight—was arrested on federal bank fraud charges for allegedly depositing a stolen U.S. Treasury check for just over $1 million.

Thaddeus Julian Culpepper, 44, was arrested at his residence without incident by special agents with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Culpepper is named in a criminal complaint filed last Thursday in Los Angeles federal court that charges him with one count of bank fraud. An affidavit alleges that Culpepper deposited 21 stolen tax refund checks worth more than $1.3 million into several attorney client trust accounts.

Culpepper and another former Knight attorney are facing charges in state court on charges of conspiring to bribe potential witnesses and obstruct justice. A pretrial conference is set for Oct. 22.

In the federal case, prosecutors alleged that in relation to one check for more than $1 million that he deposited into one of his client trust accounts, Culpepper told a bank representative that the payees were clients and had endorsed the check to him.

Culpepper personally deposited the $1,003,814 check at a Well Fargo Bank branch in Pasadena in August 2017, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. "The listed payees, however, have confirmed that they never received their tax refund check, and that they do not know Culpepper," according to the affidavit.

The document outlines 20 other checks that were allegedly deposited into client trust accounts that Culpepper opened at Chase bank and Citibank. Investigators believe that the 21 checks deposited into Culpepper's client trust accounts were stolen from the U.S. mail, according to federal prosecutors.

The bank fraud charge alleged in the complaint carries a possible sentence of up to 30 years in federal prison.

Culpepper made an initial court appearance Monday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, but he did not enter a plea to the charge. He was ordered to remain in custody pending a Wednesday hearing to discuss bail, while his arraignment was set for Oct. 19.