Disgraced Ex-Lawyer Gets 2-6 Years For Ripping Off Dead Client's Estate Of $70K From Real Estate Sale; Sentence To Start After Completion Of 4-12 Year Stint For $400K+ Escrow Account Fleecing Of Another Dead Client's Estate
- Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson  announced that a South Orange, New Jersey, man has been sentenced to two to six years in prison for stealing $70,000 from a client’s real estate sale. The sentence was ordered to run consecutive to a sentence of four to 12 years he received last year for stealing $411,082.50 from another client whom he represented in a property sale.
District Attorney Thompson said, “This defendant disgraced the legal profession when he stole money from the estates of his clients. Now he will pay a serious price for his misconduct. This should serve as a warning to others who let greed get the best of them.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Stephen Mitchell, 48, of 542 Hartford Court, in South Orange, New Jersey. The defendant was sentenced  to two to six years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice William Garnett following his conviction earlier this year on one count of second-degree grand larceny following a jury trial. The judge ordered the sentence to run consecutive to a sentence he handed down last year in a similar case.
The District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, in 2006, the defendant was hired by the property manager for the estate of Jacques Montrevil to remove the estate’s administrator and to complete the sale of property located at 3215 Church Avenue in Brooklyn that was owned by the estate. On November 6, 2006, an amended contract of sale for that property was executed between representatives of the estate and Stephen Falcone, the prospective purchaser. The defendant was present at the signing of the contract and accepted the $70,000 down payment from the buyer, made payable to himself.
The next day, the defendant deposited the check into his escrow account and wrote a check for $65,500 from the account. At the closing of the property in 2008, the defendant did not turn over the funds to complete the sale on that day or any point thereafter.
The defendant was previously convicted in 2013 of second-degree grand larceny for stealing more than $400,000 from another client. In that case, he was hired in December 2005 to represent the estate of Charles Brown for the sale of his property located at 302 St. James Place, in Brooklyn. The defendant sold the property for $650,000, netting $411,082.50, which belonged to Mr. Brown’s estate. The defendant deposited the money into his own escrow account, and then into three of his own bank accounts through March 2006.
Justice Garnett, who presided over both of the defendant’s jury trials, ordered his sentences to run consecutively and ordered him to pay $70,000 and $411,082.50 in restitution to both victims.(1)
The defendant surrendered his law license prior to his first trial.
(1) To seek some reimbursement for being screwed over, the victims here might be able to turn to the The Lawyers’ Fund For Client Protection Of the State of New York, which manages and distribute money collected from annual dues paid by members of the state bar to members of the public who have sustained a financial loss caused by the dishonest conduct of a member of the bar acting as an attorney or a fiduciary.
(See Thieving Lawyers Draining Client Security Funds, a story published in The New York Times published in 1991 that gives some-real life examples of how client security funds deal with claims and the pressures they may feel when left insufficiently financed as a result of the misconduct of a handful of lawyer/scoundrels).
For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that attempt to clean up 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 a listing for Canadian client protection funds, courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.