Sunday, November 15, 2015

NY Attorney Ripoff Reimbursement Fund Recently Coughs Up $4.1 Million To Cover Lawyer Swindles Of Client Cash; Brings Grand Total Of Payouts To More Than $185 Million Since Fund’s Creation In 1982

In Buffalo, New York, The Buffalo News reports:
  • Seven clients, or heirs, of two Western New York lawyers are among more than 100 recipients statewide recently reimbursed a total of $4.1 million by the state Lawyers Fund for Client Protection.(1)

    The fund, which is financed fully by the registration fees of attorneys, covered six clients, or heirs, of the late Ronald D. Anton, a former Niagara Falls-area attorney, who misappropriated $115,684 from escrow accounts, according to Timothy J. O’Sullivan, the Albany-based executive director of the Lawyers Fund.

    Anton, of Grand Island, worked as legal adviser for the Greater Buffalo Development Foundation, taught classes at the University at Buffalo, Niagara University and Niagara County Community College and was active in civic organizations. He was considered an attorney in good standing when he died on April 1, 2014, at the age of 82. But after his death, it was discovered there was a shortage in his attorney escrow accounts, Sullivan said.

    The clients, or their heirs, recently were paid amounts ranging from $8,097 to $27,735, Sullivan added.

    A former Western New York couple currently living in Pennsylvania also received $75,000 lost to former Jamestown lawyer James A. MacCallum in a loan transaction before he was disbarred in October 2012.


    Sullivan said the bulk of the most recent reimbursements by the client fund involved dishonest conduct by 18 other attorneys statewide, including four in Manhattan and Brooklyn who were prosecuted for the thefts of more than $1.5 million from 65 clients.


    With the latest repayments, more than $185 million has been paid out to 8,211 clients defrauded by lawyers since the Lawyers Fund’s creation in 1982.
For the story, see Client of two WNY lawyers repaid for faulty legal help (Attorney fees go to protection fund).

(1) 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.

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;

    When Lawyers Steal the Escrow, a June, 2005 New York Times story describing some cases of client reimbursements ("With real estate business surging and down-payment amounts rising with home prices, the temptation for a lawyer to filch money from a bulging escrow account and later repay it with other clients' money has never been greater, said lawyers who monitor the thefts."),

    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.

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