Sunday, December 16, 2012

NJ Closing Attorney Admits To Ripping Off Clients, Law Partners Of $885K+; Handiwork Left Several Clients With Double Mortgages, Leaving Insurers Holding The Bag

From the Office of the U.S. Attorney (Trenton, New Jersey):
  • A former partner of a law firm based in Freehold, N.J., admitted [] to defrauding the firm and its clients by improperly diverting more than $885,000 from the law firm, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

    Timothy Provost, 57, of Millstone Township, N.J., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Shipp in Trenton federal court to an Information charging him with one count of mail fraud.

    According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

    Provost admitted that between April 2004 and January 2011, he embezzled from the law firm, referred to in court documents simply as “Law Firm,” by wrongfully writing checks from the law firm’s attorney trust and business accounts to himself and his personal creditors to pay for his and his family’s personal expenses, including his mortgage, his children’s tuition, and horse stable expenses. Provost then mailed some of the checks to his personal creditors. He further admitted to attempting to hide his theft by using the stolen funds to purchase cashier’s checks payable to his creditors or to himself.

    Provost, who was a partner at the firm, had access to the law firm’s bank accounts in order to conduct real estate transactions on behalf of clients, including closings and refinancings.

    Provost’s embezzlement left several clients with double mortgages, which insurance then stepped in to cover. In total, Provost stole more than $885,000 from the attorney trust and business accounts for his personal benefit.(1)
For the U.S. Attorney press release, see Former New Jersey Lawyer Admits Embezzling More Than $885,000 In Law Firm Funds.

For the formal charges, see U.S. v. Provost.

(1) The New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection  was established to reimburse clients who have suffered a loss due to dishonest conduct of a member of the New Jersey Bar. According to the Fund's website, for loss claims that are determined to be eligible for a reimbursement there currently is a limit of $400,000 per claimant for claims arising after January 1, 2007 and an aggregate maximum for claims against a single attorney of $1,500,000. Lower per claimant maximums apply to claims arising prior to January 1, 2007, its website states.
For similar funds established to reimburse clients who have suffered a loss due to the dishonest conduct of attorneys in other states and Canada, see:

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