Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Queens DA Puts Pinch On Attorney For Allegedly Fleecing Dead Client's Estate Out Of $500K+

From the Office of the Queens County, New York District Attorney:
  • Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, [] announced that a Brooklyn lawyer retained to oversee the assets of a deceased Queens man has been charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the estate between August 2008 through July 2013. District Attorney Brown said, “The defendant is accused of breaching her fiduciary duty as an attorney and unjustly enriching herself at the expense of her client. If convicted, the defendant must be punished.”

    The District Attorney identified the defendant as Debra Ann Purcell-Regis, 55, of Syosset, Long Island. Purcell-Regis was arraigned [...] charges of second-degree grand larceny and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing. The defendant was released on her own recognizance and was ordered back to court on June 18, 2015. If convicted, the defendant faces up to 15 years in prison.

    District Attorney Brown said that, according to the criminal complaint, Purcell-Regis was hired by Thomas Massaro to handle the estate of his deceased half brother, Joseph Filiano, in 2008. Forensic analysis of the estate financial records allegedly show that the defendant removed more than $500,000 from the deceased’s bank account and re-deposited the funds into two separate accounts held at Washington Mutual and Chase banks, both of which were in the defendant’s name. Over the span of five years, the defendant is alleged to have made cash withdrawals and endorsed payments to others unrelated to the Filiano estate totaling $495,000.

    District Attorney Brown said that, according to the charges, the Queens Surrogate Court in 2012 ordered the defendant to make payments on behalf of the estate. It is alleged that the defendant was wired just over $77,000 from an account, not associated with the Filiano estate, on July 3, 2012 and an additional $80,000 was transferred from an individual to the account on July 22, 2013. Only then were payments on behalf of the estate paid. The remainder of the withdrawn funds in the estate account were allegedly unrelated to the Filiano estate.

    District Attorney Brown said, according to the charges, the defendant is alleged to have used estate funds for her personal gain, including paying tuition at Friends Academy, a private Quaker school on Long Island.

    According to the charges, said District Attorney Brown, when Massaro died in February 2013, the defendant prepared records regarding Filiano’s estate for the Queens Surrogate’s Court in which she allegedly claimed that Massaro’s wife had received her husband’s pension of more than $287,000. However records allegedly showed that the funds had actually been deposited into Filiano’s estate and was allegedly spent by the defendant.

    In January 2015, the defendant repaid the estate of Filiano $200,000 and in March 2015 made another payment of $50,000.
Source: Brooklyn Lawyer Charged With Stealing More Than Half A Million Dollars From Estate (Defendant Faces Up To 15 Years In Prison).


(1) In the event the defendant is convicted of the alleged ripoff, the victim may be able to seek some reimbursement for being screwed over by turning to the The Lawyers’ Fund For Client Protection Of the State of New York, which manages and distribute 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 bar acting as an attorney or a fiduciary.

(See Thieving Lawyers Draining Client Security Funds, a story published in The New York Times published in 1991 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).

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.