A 70-year-old Sunset Park attorney faces up to 15 years behind bars for allegedly stealing $280,000 in down payments from his clients during two separate real estate transactions.
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced the indictment against the alleged scammer, who was arraigned before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on Tuesday for four counts of grand larceny and five counts of issuing a bad check.
“This defendant allegedly betrayed the trust of his clients and abused his power as an attorney, taking advantage of the escrow accounts he controlled to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said Gonzalez.
In one instance, the attorney represented a couple in the $1,350,000 sale of their two-family home in Sunset Park between October 2018 and March 2019, for which he accepted a $135,000 down payment from the buyers, which he was to hold in escrow on behalf of his clients.
Following the deal’s closure, however, the lawyer allegedly issued two $65,600 checks to the victims — but both were rejected due to insufficient funds, according to prosecutors.
The defendant is also accused of stealing another $150,000 down payment from three brothers in Dyker Heights, who he represented during the sale of their $1,500,000 two-family home between November 2018 and April 2019.
Similarly to the Sunset Park victims, the lawyer allegedly issued three checks to the brothers, each worth nearly $50,000 — but all three checks bounced, according to the DA’s office.
The defendant was released without bail, and is slated to return to court on April 1, according to Gonzalez’s office.