Saturday, July 09, 2016

Disbarred Lowlife NYC Real Estate Lawyer Gets Shipped Off Upstate To Begin 4-12 Year Sentence For Fleecing Vulnerable, Unwitting Clients Out Of $4.5 Million

In New York City, the New York Daily News reports:
  • A disbarred real estate lawyer was sentenced to prison [] in Manhattan for stealing $4.5 million from clients.(1)

    Luigi Rosabianca, 41, former head of Rosabianca & Associates, got four to 12 years behind bars in exchange for his plea to multiple counts of grand larceny.

    Starting in 2013, Rosabianca began stealing money from real estate transactions that was kept in an escrow account and in two other accounts he had access to.

    One of his victims was former Daily News editor-in-chief Martin Dunn, who was ripped off for $630,000 by Rosabianca while his wife was gravely ill with cancer in 2013.

    Dunn, in a statement to the court, said he felt like the former attorney, a friend of his, had exploited his vulnerable state. "This was a very painful, distressing experience," Dunn said. He and his wife were paid back $455,000 weeks before she died.

    Rosabianca's refund to Dunn was taken from another of his seven victims, who was mentally ill and unable to care for herself, prosecutors said.

    "Luigi Rosabianca targeted and preyed upon vulnerable clients, whether that person was suffering from a serious mental illness, caring for a sick spouse, or simply living in a different country," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement.

    "He gained his clients' trust before raiding funds entrusted to him for safekeeping."

    Rosabianca got choked up as he apologized before getting shipped upstate. "I realize I hurt a lot of people and for that I am sorry," he said.

    His attorney Robert Schalk insisted that Rosabianca has "been contrite since day one." “He will pay back restitution owed when once again he returns to be a productive member of society," he added.

    Justice Maxwell Wiley referenced the sadness and grief Rosabianca had caused before handing down the sentence. "The purpose of my sentence today is punishment, pure and simple," the judge said.
Source: New York City real estate lawyer gets prison time for stealing $4.5M from clients.

For the Manhattan District Attorney press release, see DA Vance: Former Real Estate Attorney Sentenced To 4-To-12 Years In Prison For Stealing $4.5 Million From Clients.

See, generally, Frederick Miller, "If You Can't Trust Your Lawyer .... ?", 138 Univ. of Pennsylvania Law Rev. 785 (1990) for more on the apparent, long-standing tolerance for deceit by many in the legal profession:
  • This tolerance to deception is encouraged by the profession's institutional civility. Seldom is a fig called a fig, or a shyster a shyster. No, our euphemisms are wonderfully polite: "frivolous conduct," or a "lack of candor;" or "law-office failure;" or, heaven forbid, a "peculation," a "defalcation," or a "negative balance" in a law firms's trust account.

    There is also widespread reluctance on the part of lawyers --- again, some lawyers --- to discuss publicly, much less acknowledge, that they have colleagues who engage in deceit and unprofessional conduct.

    This reluctance is magnified when the brand of deceit involves the theft of client money and property, notwithstanding that most lawyers would agree that stealing from clients is the ultimate ethical transgression.[...] The fact is, however, that theft of client property is not an insignificant or isolated problem within the legal profession. Indeed, it is a hounding phenomenon nationwide, and probably the principal reason why most lawyers nationwide are disbarred from the practice of law.
(1) The Lawyers’ Fund For Client Protection Of the State of New York manages and distributes 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 New York bar acting as an attorney or a fiduciary.

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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