Bad Lawyers

Bellmore Attorney Robert Wagner Receives Up to 3 Years in Prison
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Robert Wagner

Summary: A New York attorney was disbarred and sentenced to prison for stealing from multiple clients.

Bellmore attorney Robert Alan Wagner had already been disbarred when the sentencing day came around. Wagner was accused of stealing nearly $1 million from his clients. Wagner ended up pleading guilty on March 20 to two counts grand larceny in the second degree, which is a felony.

  
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Judge Robert Bogle sentenced the 63-year-old attorney to 1 to 3 years in prison and was ordered to repay roughly $600,000 back to his clients’ estates, according to Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas. She said, “This defendant swindled his clients, stealing more than $900,000 and used it to enrich himself and his business. Our Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau has prosecuted more than 15 attorneys in recent years for scamming their clients and this sentence should send a clear message that lawyers who break the law will face serious consequences.”

Attorney Joel R. Weiss of Uniondale represented Wagner. He said his client “is a good man who did a bad thing. He has owned up to it, pled guilty and accepted punishment.”

Wagner was first arrested in September 2016 for taking over $400,000 from the proceeds of a sale of a decedent’s home. After his arrest, he was released on $200,000 bail plus had to wear a monitor tracking device and surrender his passport.

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He had already repaid most of the beneficiaries their entitled bequests before the investigation into him ended. The last beneficiary received their $100,000 before his arrest, Singas said. However, the investigation and review of bank records led to his second arrest two months later.

What the investigation turned up was missing funds from a French estate. Wagner had been retained by the administrator of the estate to oversee the transfer of money for the decedent’s Suffolk County-based bank accounts to a French bank account. This was in November of 2013. He had not been given the authorization to distribute, transfer, or use the estate funds. Review of bank records showed that Wagner transferred the funds into four of his bank accounts between June 2014 and January 2016, stealing over $500,000.



The French administrator attempted to contact Wagner multiple times between May 2014 and April 2015 to verify the status of the funds transfer. Wagner always presented excuses such as personal and family health issues, on vacation, or waiting for the court to approve the transfer. He ended up using the money for personal gain by posting payments to support his law practice and making hefty cash withdrawals.

After the second arrest, the investigation continued, revealing an additional victim. Wagner stole roughly $11,000 from a family trust.

Singas explained that in total, Wagner stole over $900,000 from his clients. When the French administrator retained Wagner, he was practicing law legally. In March 2015, the Appellate Division of the New York State Court of Appeals disbarred him. This was around the time he should have been facilitating the transfer of estate funds.

Would you trust your money with an attorney? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn about other attorneys stealing from their clients, read these articles:

Photo: theislandnow.com



 

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