Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Lawyer Who Faced 15 Years After Fleecing $100K+ From Clients Dodges Major Sentence; Gets One Year In Jail After Coughing Up Substantial Amount In Restitution, Including $280K To State Bar's Client Protection Fund

In Brooklyn, New York, the New York Post reports:
  • A​ ​Brooklyn attorney who was disbarred for embezzling more than $100,000 from over 25 clients he represented in personal injury cases was sentenced ​in Brooklyn Supreme Court ​Wednesday to one year in jail.

    Disgraced ​ex-​counselor Kenneth Gellerman deposited settlement checks into his own accounts, and on a number of occasions even pocketed funds after settling cases without his clients’ knowledge. He faced 15 years on the top count of grand larceny, but brokered a plea deal in June, 2015.

    The shady lawyer also had to cough up $280,000 in restitution to the Lawyer’s Fund for Client Protection, a trust that reimburses people scammed by their attorneys.(1)

    “This defendant re-victimized people who suffered personal injuries by stealing their settlement money, abusing their trust and betraying his profession,” ​Brooklyn ​District Attorney Ken Thompson said in a statement. “He paid back a substantial amount in restitution and now deserves to spend time behind bars.”

    Gellerman, from Long Island, was disbarred following his September 2013 arrest for misuse of the funds. He had been scamming clients since 2008.
Source: Lawyer who embezzled over $100K from clients gets year in jail.
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(1) For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover 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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