Bad Lawyers

Richard Roberts and Gerald Saluti Jr. Indicted for Stealing $140,000
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Summary: Two New Jersey attorneys have been indicted for stealing $140,000 from their clients.

Two New Jersey law firm partners were indicted this week for using their clients’ money as their own personal piggy bank. According to the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, Richard M. Roberts, 79, and Gerald M. Saluti Jr., 49, stole over $140,000 from four clients.


“We allege that Roberts and Saluti crookedly betrayed the trust of their clients and stole from them,” Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said. “Lawyers take an oath to faithfully serve their clients’ interests and uphold the law, but we charge that these men made a mockery of those obligations.”

On Monday, the owners of Newark’s Saluti Law Group were indicted by a state grand jury for stealing more than $140,000 from their unsuspecting clients. They were charged with conspiracy, theft by failure make required disposition of property received, hindering apprehension or prosecution, and perjury.

The two Jersey boys allegedly schemed to steal the six figures from four clients from October 2012 through August 2013. After the clients were given settlement awards, their money was placed in the firm’s attorney trust account, which Roberts and Saluti dipped into to pay their personal expenses, which ranged from credit card bills to car payments.

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Roberts allegedly took $20,000 to pay his ex-wife’s alimony. The attorney was a prosecutor in the 1970s, and according to The Associated Press, he was even portrayed in the 2007 movie “American Gangster” by Oscar-winner Russell Crowe. Now it appears that Roberts is an American thief.

“Attorneys have a duty to ensure that funds placed in their attorney trust accounts are strictly accounted for and handled in accordance with their fiduciary relationship to their clients,” said Elie Honig, Director of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We allege that Roberts and Saluti instead treated their attorney trust account like a personal slush fund that they spent on everything from cars and entertainment to, in Roberts’ case, paying alimony.”

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office said that Roberts and Saluti were charged with hindering and perjury because they lied to the police and provided false testimony while under oath. When questioned by law enforcement, the two men had tried to blame the theft on their office administrator Gabriel Iannacone, when in fact, the two men had worked with Iannacone to improperly withdraw money from the client trust fund.

On January 23, Iannacone pled guilty to third-degree conspiracy to commit theft by failure to make required disposition of property received. His sentence is pending.

The Attorney General’s Office said that more charges may be filed against Roberts and Saluti, and both men have had their law licenses suspended in the state. In August of 2013, they dissolved their partnership, Roberts & Saluti LLC. They had been doing business as Saluti Law Group.

The suspended attorneys face five to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Below is wallpaper art from American Gangster, where Russell Crowe played “Richie Roberts.”

Source: New Jersey Attorney General’s Office

Photo courtesy of New Jersey Law Journal & Photo Pics

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