Saturday, November 19, 2016

NJ AG Investigators Raid Attorney's Office, Bag Him For Allegedly Stealing Over $1.2 Million From Clients; Practicing Elder Law, Suspect Charged With Preying On Dementia-Stricken, Those Without Close Relatives To Guard Loved Ones' Interests; Probe Into Suspicious Transactions Related To Over A Dozen Add'l Clients Remains Ongoing; Bail Set At $500K

From the Office of the New Jersey Attorney General:
  • Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that prominent Ocean County attorney Robert Novy, who hosted a radio show and taught seminars on elder law, was arrested [] on charges that he stole more than $1.2 million from elderly clients.(1) The victims in some cases did not have close relatives to guard their interests or suffered from dementia.

    Detectives of the Division of Criminal Justice arrested Novy, 65, of Brick, N.J., on charges of first-degree money laundering, second-degree theft by unlawful taking, and second-degree misapplication of entrusted property. Novy will be lodged in the Ocean County Jail with bail set at $500,000.

    In addition to arresting Novy, detectives [] executed a search warrant at the offices of Novy & Associates, LLC, on Ridgeway Avenue in Manchester, seizing billing records and other evidence. The Attorney General’s Office obtained a court order freezing over $3.5 million in assets held in various bank accounts of Novy and his law firm. Attorneys from the Division of Criminal Justice also applied for a Superior Court judge to appoint a trustee to oversee the business operations of the law firm.
    In conducting the investigation, the Division of Criminal Justice obtained and reviewed voluminous bank records and conducted an extensive financial analysis. The investigation revealed that Novy allegedly stole funds from elderly and deceased clients who, in some cases, did not have a close relative to claim their estate or challenge Novy’s actions. Novy gained control through wills, powers of attorney, and trust documents, making himself the sole financial decision-maker for these clients.
    It is alleged that Novy engaged in the following thefts from clients:
  • He allegedly stole $78,000 from an 88-year-old woman who suffered from dementia, billing the woman and her estate a total of $78,000 that was not supported by any invoice or records showing justification.
  • He allegedly stole more than $176,000 from an 85-year-old woman who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Among other things, he allegedly withdrew funds directly from her personal account totaling nearly $60,000, converting them into cashier’s checks and depositing the checks directly into his personal account. In addition, he allegedly used his power of attorney to cash out an annuity the woman held, depositing over $122,000 into his attorney trust account and then issuing checks from that account to his law firm totaling $117,000, claiming they were “power of attorney fees.”
  • He allegedly stole at least $459,000 from an 87-year-old woman. Among other things, he deposited proceeds totaling roughly $387,000 from two annuities into his attorney trust account, and subsequently transferred those funds into his law firm’s business accounts. He claimed part of the money was for attorneys’ fees and power of attorney fees, but he did not justify those huge fees.
  • He allegedly stole nearly $550,000 from another elderly woman. He allegedly transferred nearly $300,000 that he held for her in his attorney trust account into the firm’s business accounts without any invoices or evidence that legal services were provided. On another occasion, Novy allegedly wrote himself a check for $250,000 from the woman’s personal bank account and deposited it into his own personal bank account.
  • In some cases, when challenged by trustees or relatives about particular funds that had been withdrawn from client accounts, Novy claimed they were “administrative errors” and repaid the funds. The Division of Criminal Justice is continuing to investigate suspicious transactions related to more than a dozen additional clients of Novy.
For more, see Prominent Ocean County Lawyer Who Hosted Radio Show on Elder Law Arrested on Charges He Stole Over $1.2 Million from Elderly Clients (Attorney General’s Office executes search warrant at Robert Novy’s law offices in Manchester, N.J.).
(1) The New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection was established to reimburse clients who have suffered a loss due to dishonest conduct of a member of the New Jersey Bar.

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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