Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Lawyer Gets Bar Ticket Yanked After Convictions For Embezzling $1.77M From One Client In Attempt To Replace $1M+ He Glommed From Other Clients' Real Estate Escrow Accounts

In Staten Island, New York, the Staten Island Advance reports:
  • A lawyer convicted of embezzling nearly $2 million from a Richmond cemetery has been disbarred.

    The Appellate Division, Second Department, has stripped Timothy G. Griffin of his law license, based on his conviction earlier this year for ripping off $1.77 million from United Hebrew Cemetery.

    Griffin, 55, who was based in Bronxville, was suspended in November of last year and did not respond to a motion by the Ninth Judicial Department to disbar him, the court said.

    In April, Griffin was sentenced in state Supreme Court, St. George, to four and a third to 13 years in prison and signed a $1.77 million confession of judgment in favor of United Hebrew Cemetery.(1) He had previously pleaded guilty to first-degree grand larceny.

    State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Griffin had ripped off the cemetery to try to replace the cash he stole from his Westchester County real-estate clients' escrow accounts.

    Griffin fueled his family's extravagant lifestyle with the cash, paying for a country club membership and buying a BMW, Lexus and pricey jewelry, said Schneiderman.

    Griffin had been brought in to keep an eye on the books after a cemetery official had helped herself to more than $850,000, said authorities.

    Griffin made six unauthorized wire transfers from the cemetery's account to his own attorney escrow account between October 2012 and early January 2014, Schneiderman said.

    In all, he glommed $1.9 million, said the attorney general.

    In September of last year, Schneiderman announced that Griffin had also been charged in Westchester County with embezzling more than $1 million from his real-estate clients' escrow accounts. He pleaded guilty to grand larceny charges in May in Westchester County state Supreme Court, Schneiderman said.

    He is expected to be sentenced Sept. 8 to a prison term of four and a third to 13 years to run concurrent to the Staten Island case and must also fork over $850,000 to clients in judgments and restitution, said Schneiderman.

    A Connecticut resident, Griffin has been convicted of federal tax evasion in that state.
Source: Cemetery-scam lawyer disbarred.
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(1) Clients found to have been victimized by any alleged trust fund theft may be able to seek some reimbursement for being screwed over by turning 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 generally:
  • N.Y. fund for cheated clients wants thieving lawyers disbarred, a July, 2015 Associated Press story on this Fund reporting that the Fund's executive director, among other things, is calling for prompt referral to the local district attorney when the disciplinary committee has uncontested evidence of theft by a lawyer injuring a client or an admission of culpability;

    Thieving Lawyers Draining Client Security Funds, a December, 1991 New York Times story that gives some-real life examples of how client security funds deal with claims and the pressures the administrators of those funds 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:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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