Businessman Fleeced Of Over $300,000 By Now-Disbarred Lawyer Obtains Some Relief, Collects $175K From State Attorney Ripoff Reimbursement Fund
- A longtime former attorney who recently completed a two-year prison sentence for a larceny conviction is the subject of a new disciplinary action.
The state Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel recently filed a presentment in Superior Court in New Haven against Benson A. Snaider, 78, of Stratford, accusing him of misconduct. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25.
Snaider was a New Haven-based lawyer who frequently handled land use cases. A prior disciplinary action resulted in Snaider being barred from applying for readmission to the bar for 12 years, or until 2025.
One count of the latest presentment stems from Snaider's representation of former client Jonathan Zuckerman's company, Phoenix Housing of Shelton LLC, in a civil action arising from an eminent domain case involving the city of Shelton, court documents show.
Around December 2007, a check for $175,000 was made payable to Phoenix Housing and Snaider, according to the presentment, which was filed in November.
Snaider deposited the money into his Citizen's Bank escrow account and then in November 2011, he admitted to Zuckerman that he had spent the money, the presentment alleges. The state Client Security Fund has paid $175,000 to Zuckerman on this claim,(1) the presentment states.
"(Snaider) has committed professional misconduct in that he has misappropriated client funds for his own personal use," the presentment alleges.
In a separate count, the presentment also claims misconduct in Snaider's representation of another Zuckerman company, Shelton Yacht & Cabana Club Inc. Snaider put $220,000 in two escrow accounts in connection with civil litigation filed against Shelton Yacht by David Boyarsky and Precision Mechanical Services Inc.
In December 2004, the court awarded Precision $47,806. In May 2009, the Boyarsky case settled for $77,500. The award and settlement totaled $125,306.
According to the presentment, Snaider still owes Zuckerman the balance between the $220,000 and the $125,306, or $94,694.
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:
- Directory Of Lawyers' Funds For Client Protection (now includes a listing for Canadian client protection funds, courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.
- 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.