WINTER PARK, Fla.—A Winter Park attorney — an expert on trust and estates who is the wife of a well-known cardiologist — continues to be free after allegations emerged that she embezzled more than $1.5 million from clients and fellow lawyers, resulting in her losing her accountant’s license and being permanently disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court.
The court, in its mid-2015 permanent disbarment action, accused Julie Kronhaus of misconduct, misappropriating funds, violating accounting standards and not shutting down her law practice as she was ordered to do months earlier, when a 2014 investigation revealed that money she was entrusted with was missing. She was initially disbarred in September 2014.
According to court records, investigators began looking into Kronhaus when her checks to clients began to bounce. After investigating Kronhaus for months, the Seminole County Sheriff's Office handed over the case to the FBI in 2014, but no money has been recovered nor has Kronhaus been arrested.
“It seems like if you steal a few million dollars you can go free, but if you write a bad check for $100, they’ll arrest you,” attorney Kenneth Oertel of Oertel, Fernandez, Bryant & Atkinson P.A. told the Florida Record.
Oertel represents Alan and Brenda Cook, who allegedly lost $1 million to Kronhaus.
“Everyone who’s aware of this story is confounded that she is still walking free,” Oertel said. “There’s an absolute avalanche of evidence against her and I have written to the state attorney in Seminole County, Mr. Phil Archer, several times and he’s given me some lame responses. I’ve sent him investigative information, bounced checks, records of the raided accounts and even reports from the Florida Bar. And I have no idea why she hasn’t been arrested.”
According to public records, the Cooks hired Kronhaus to set up a trust fund to hold proceeds from the sale of their aircraft interior construction business in 1999. The last statement the couple saw was in 2011, when the fund allegedly reflected a balance of $630,000.
In 2014, the Cooks sold a second business for $400,000, and once again gave the money to Kronhaus to oversee, records say. When they asked her for the money, however, Kronhaus allegedly strung them along for weeks and then gave them bad checks. The Cooks allege that they eventually discovered that all their money had disappeared from the trust.
In an attempt to recover their purported losses, the Cooks filed a civil lawsuit against Kronhaus, who made no effort to deny the accusations.
“I don’t think she had a defense," Oertel said. "She admitted to her former law partner that she took the money."
The judge entered a judgment against Kronhaus in June, but the Cooks allegedly have not yet recovered any money from Kronhaus.
“I think Phil Archer has abdicated his oath of office where he swore to uphold and protect the laws in the constitution of the United States to protect victims of crimes, and he has done nothing," Oertel said. "And he should be called on to explain his lack of interest in this serious crime that is indisputable and already proven.”
Kronhaus earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Mars Hill College, a master’s in accounting from Florida Atlantic University, a law degree from Nova Southeastern University and a master’s in tax law from Emory University.
Kronhaus reportedly lives in a 6,500-square-foot home in Alaqua, a golf course community near Longwood, with her husband and teenage daughter. Her husband owns Lake Cardiology in Mount Dora and hosts "Good Day Health with Dr. Ken," a nationally syndicated radio talk show heard on more than 150 stations.
Others who reportedly lost money to Kronhaus include an Oviedo resident whom she had known for 30 years and a Baltimore lawyer.