Bad Lawyers

Pennsylvania Attorney Keith A. Bassi Sentenced for Mail Fraud
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Mon Valley

Summary: A former Pennsylvania attorney accused of using client funds for personal expenses was sentenced to nearly 3 years in federal prison.

A former attorney from Jefferson Township, Fayette County was sentenced to nearly three years behind bars for misappropriating client funds. Sixty-one-year-old Keith A. Bassi was accused of moving money from a client’s account into his personal businesses, such as the Mon Valley Independent newspaper, according to The Tube City Almanac.

  
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Bassi was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab to 33 months in federal prison and must pay back the money, a total of $505,000, in restitution in addition to a $100,000 fine and forfeiture of $235,515, according to U.S. Attorney Scott Brady.

Bassi was a well-known attorney in the mid-Mon Valley area. With an education from Yale and Duquesne universities, Bassi was set as a partner at Bassi, McCune & Vreeland in Charleroi. He also acted as a solicitor for numerous communities and school districts and as the general counsel to the Charleroi Federal Savings Bank, now CFSBank. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar in 1982.

Prosecutors claim Bassi started misappropriating the funds of an elderly client in 2012. The funds were part of an estate of an elderly Charleroi woman suffering from dementia. Her estate was estimated at around $2 million when Bassi took over as her legal guardian.

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From 2012 until 2016, Bassi was funneling the money from her estate into accounts that he controlled at CFSBank and PNC. Prosecutors allege that he bought a life insurance policy in someone else’s name using her money. He then cashed in the policy and kept the money.

He is also believed to have used $145,000 of the woman’s money to operate Mid Mon Valley Publishing Co., which he is the part owner of. He formed the company in 2016 to operate the Mon Valley Independent. The money went towards the payroll in one instance. The FBI and U.S. postal inspectors were the ones to uncover his actions.



Bassi entered a guilty plea in October 2017. His prominent friends wrote letters to Judge Schwab, pleading for a leniency and asking for probation instead of prison time. However, Brady made it very clear that the seriousness of his crimes and abusing his power as a person who should be able to be trusted warranted a prison sentence of at least 33 months. Brady and Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregory C. Melucci write in the court filing that he “abused his role as guardian to the (victim’s) estate, and capitalized on her vulnerability.”

Bassi surrendered his law license in August 2017 and was disbarred in December by the state Disciplinary Board.

Do you think a prison sentence was appropriate? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about other attorneys who took advantage of their elderly clients, read these articles:

Photo: monvalleyindependent.com



 

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