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Garden City Attorney Steven Morelli Sentenced to Prison
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Steven Morelli

Summary: Steven Morelli has been sentenced to prison for stealing around $800,000 from clients.

A Garden City civil rights lawyer had already been disbarred over his actions. Now he will serve time behind bars.

  
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Steven Morelli, 61, stole around $800,000 from his clients. He told the Nassau County Court, “I spent my whole life helping people … I destroyed all that.” Morelli knew he had disgraced himself and was ready to serve his punishment with a “heavy heart.”

Morelli continued, “I know I did wrong and I’m sincerely sorry for that … I beg the forgiveness of my clients, those ones that I hurt.” Acting State Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty accepted his remorse but handed down a 2.5 to 7.5-year sentence behind bars. She told him during sentencing that his conviction for multiple charges of grand larceny was not only a disgrace to himself but to the entire legal profession.

Gugerty said, “The bottom line is that your transgression has affected not only your family and your friends personally, but many of the people who relied on you as an attorney to help them.”

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She ordered him to repay all of the stolen funds. His attorney Marc Gann told the court that Morelli has already repaid about $200,000 of the funds. His attorney described Morelli as a stand-up man that raised a family of six biological children and an adopted seventh child. He provided “significant, critical help” to many of his former clients. His adopted son wrote a letter than Gann read to the court. The letter said, “Everyone deserves a second chance,” which is what he says Morelli gave him when he was 18 and living in a group home. He says Morelli saved him from a life on the streets and gave him a future that included a college education.

The Nassau district attorney’s office described a different side to Morelli, the side that stole from over 20 clients and used their settlements “as his personal piggy bank.” He used their money for himself and his law firm.



In 2015, one of his clients filed a complaint, sparking the investigation into his practice. By March 2016, Morelli had been arrested for the theft of $200,000 that Morelli had won in civil settlements for four clients. When one suspicious client asked Morelli where their money was, he told them, “the check was probably lost in the mail.”

When he entered a guilty plea in April, more charges were then learned about. District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement that Morelli “will be held accountable for his crimes and that he will never practice law again.”

To learn more about the case, read Steven Morelli Believed to Have Stolen from Four Clients, Turns into Over 20 Clients during Investigation.

What do you think attorneys do after being disbarred? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about attorneys charged with grand larceny, read these articles:

Photo: newsday.com



 

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