Attorney Admits To Looting An Escrow Account, Co-Conspiring With Another To Rip Off Off $4.7M In Bogus Real Estate Deal
- Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that EDWARD ADAMS, a New York-based attorney, pled guilty  in Manhattan federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud in connection with his participation in a fraudulent real estate scheme.
As part of that scheme, ADAMS and a co-conspirator misappropriated millions of dollars in escrow funds that should have been safeguarded for investors in a real estate development project. The real estate project was never developed and investors lost all of their money. ADAMS pled guilty before U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl.
According to the Information, statements made during [the] guilty plea proceeding, and a Complaint previously unsealed in Manhattan federal court:
Beginning in early 2008, ADAMS and James Monahan, a former sergeant in the New York City Police Department and the owner of a real estate investment company called Panam Management Group, Inc., negotiated with another real estate investment company to solicit investors for a project Monahan claimed to be constructing in the Dominican Republic.
In connection with the project, ADAMS and Monahan executed agreements that required investor funds to be deposited into escrow accounts that were to be managed by ADAMS. From October 2008 through February 2009, approximately $4.7 million in investor funds were deposited into the escrow accounts. Shortly after the deposits were made, the funds were improperly withdrawn by ADAMS and Monahan without disclosure to investors.(1)
In an effort to hide the fact that the funds had been removed from the escrow account, Monahan mailed a forged letter on the stationery of a major bank to investors in May 2009 claiming that their money was safely deposited with that bank. However, by June 2009, all of the investor funds had been taken from the escrow accounts. At that point, almost no work had been performed on the purported project in the Dominican Republic. None of the money was returned to investors.
(1) The Lawyers’ Fund For Client Protection Of the State of New York may find itself being asked by the victims to step up and cover at least some of the losses they suffered. The Fund exists to protect legal consumers from dishonest conduct in the practice of law in the state, to preserve the integrity of the bar, to safeguard the good name of lawyers for their honesty in handling client money, and to promote public confidence in the administration of justice in the Empire State. It attempts to secure these goals by, among other things, reimbursing client money that is misused in the practice of law.
According to the Fund, "typical losses covered include the theft of money from estates of dead clients; escrow funds in real property closing; settlements in personal injury actions; and money embezzled from clients in investment transactions" up to a maximum of $300,000 for each client loss.
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:
- Directory Of Lawyers' Funds For Client Protection (now includes Canadian attorney ripoff funds; courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.