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Douglas Arntsen Held without Bail for Stealing Escrow Funds
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The former Crowell & Moring attorney accused of stealing client funds and then fleeing to Hong Kong in an attempt to avoid arrest, Douglas Arntsen, was arraigned Friday on charges of grand larceny and was ordered to be held without bail.

Arntsen fled the United States back in September after he was charged with embezzling $2.5 million in client funds that were deposited into escrow for his client, Regal Real Estate. He was charged with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The amount of money Arntsen is accused of stealing has risen to over $7 million but during arraignment, prosecutors said that he is under investigation for stealing another $21 million.

  
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Criminal Judge Abraham Clott was told by Assistant District Attorney Sophi Jacobs that Arntsen is alleged of putting together a scheme that included no fewer than 24 bank accounts and used a decoy so he could leave for Hong Kong. Jacobs used these examples to try  to talk the judge into holding Arntsen without bail.

“The investigation into stolen funds is continuing. The victims of this defendant have not been compensated by him,” Jacobs told the judge.

The attorney for Arntsen, Allen Lewis, told the judge that his client had already planned to travel to Hong Kong along with a business companion before he had been accused of any wrongdoings.

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“The trip was not made for the purpose of running away from these charges,” Lewis said.

The attorney said he would post the Staten Island home of Arnsten’s parents as bail, which is worth $500,000.



The next court date for Arntsen is set for April 19. Prosecutors began investigating Arntsen when a Regal Real Estate employee informed them that Arntsen could not account for the company’s escrow funds and needed to travel to Hong Kong to retrieve those funds. Authorities attempted to arrest Arntsen on September 14 but said he had already fled to Hong Kong.

Arntsen is a graduate of Seton Hall University School of Law and joined Crowell & Moring as counsel back in 2007. He was one of nine finance and distressed-debt attorneys from Buchanan Ingersoll. One day prior to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office telling his firm he was under investigation, Arntsen resigned from the firm.

Arntsen has been charged with two counts of first-degree grand larceny and scheme to defraud in the first degree. Arntsen could find himself sentenced to 25 years in prison on the top count. There are three civil lawsuits related to the alleged theft of the escrow money facing Arntsen and the firm of Crowell & Moring.

Citing the ongoing investigation, a spokesperson for Crowell & Moring did not comment on the issue at hand. The spokesperson said that the law firm has fully cooperated with the prosecutors on the case and has even hired an outside counsel to conduct an investigation into Arntsen’s activities while working with the firm.



 

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