Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Oxycontin Made Me Do It!" Says Lawyer As He Cops Plea To Ripping Off $865K From Clients' Escrow Funds From Real Estate Closings

In Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Connecticut Post reports:
  • A Stratford lawyer is facing up to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty Friday to stealing more than $800,000 from nearly a dozen clients. John M. Rodia, of Minerva Street, Derby, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge George Thim to six counts of first-degree larceny and five counts of third-degree larceny.

  • Senior Assistant State's Attorney Robert Brennan said the 47-year-old Rodia, a former State Police trooper, faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced May 12. Brennan said Rodia stole a total of $865,341 from 11 clients. He has not paid any restitution and is not expected to.(1)

  • According to police, in early 2009 they began receiving complaints that Rodia had been stealing clients' funds he had been entrusted with. Police said one local man claimed he had hired Rodia to handle the sale of his parents' home and Rodia kept $186,000 from the sale of the home and stuck the victim with the closing costs.

  • A couple hired Rodia to handle the refinancing of their Prospect home. But they claim he kept the money from the new mortgage and they nearly lost their home, police said.

  • Police said a Stamford man hired Rodia to handle the refinancing of the mortgage on his condominium, but Rodia kept the $360,000 to pay off the old mortgage. As a result, the condo is currently in foreclosure, police said.

  • A 63-year-old woman, who was injured in a car crash in Fairfield, hired Rodia in 2006 to represent her in a lawsuit against the other driver. But police said the woman later learned that Rodia had settled the suit for $2,500 and kept the money.

  • When confronted, police said Rodia admitted to the thefts, blaming his crimes on an addiction to Oxycontin, which he claimed he developed as a result of a series of back surgeries from a crash while he was a trooper. He claims he developed a $1,000-a-day addiction to the powerful painkiller. But sources said Rodia also lavished expensive gifts, including a car on his girlfriend.

  • Rodia is a 1986 graduate of the University of New Haven and a 1998 graduate of Columbia University Law School. He served as a Trumbull police office from 1986 to 1988, after which he joined the state police. Rodia served as a state trooper until December 1996.

Source: Lawyer pleads guilty to stealing $865,000.

(1) To the extent the victimized clients can't collect any money from this lowlife attorney, they might consider pursuing a claim with the Connecticut Client Security Fund, which is a fund established by the rules of the Connecticut Superior Court to provide reimbursement to individuals who have lost money or property as a result of the dishonest conduct of an attorney practicing law in the State of Connecticut, in the course of the attorney-client relationship. The fund provides a remedy for clients who are unable to obtain reimbursement for their loss from any other source. Go here to obtain a copy of form JD-GC-15 - "Application for Reimbursement - Client Security Fund" (PDF).

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:

Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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