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Disbarred Attorney Joseph Talafous Sentenced to 26 Years
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Joseph Talafous

Summary: Disbarred Jersey City attorney Joseph J. Talafous was sentenced to 26 years in prison for stealing over $1 million from several of his clients.

A former Jersey City lawyer has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for stealing $1.5 million from his clients. Joseph J. Talafous stole from elderly clients and a young boy’s trust fund. Hudson County Superior Court Judge Mirtha Ospina handed down the sentence Thursday, according to NJ.com.

  
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Talafous is accused of stealing roughly half a million dollars from a trust fund established for a young boy who lost his father in an accident in 2001. He also stole hundreds of thousands from the investment accounts and estates of his elderly clients. In all, he had stolen roughly $1.5 million over a ten year period.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced that Talafous, 55, is required to pay full restitution and will serve 26 years behind bars for his actions. He was convicted in January on 17 counts, ranging from misapplication of entrusted property to theft by unlawful taking.

The thefts occurred between October 2004 and May 2015 from five different clients, including the young boy who was an infant when his father died. A trust fund was set up for the boy when his father died to help the boy. Talafous made out with $461,000 from that trust fund.

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In another of the thefts, Talafous stole $300,000 from the estate of an elderly Jersey City woman who passed away in 2009. The woman did not have any immediate family so she had hired Talafous to prepare her will and named him executor of her estate.

Talafous also stole $400,000 from a Jersey City man who died in 2012. The man’s family had hired the attorney for the estate, which included life insurance policies worth over $870,000.



He stole $330,000 between 2012 and 2015 when he was entrusted at counsel for the estate of a Jersey City woman who owned property in New York.

Talafous used his power of attorney to make withdrawals that were not authorized from the investment account of a Jersey City elderly client and their estate once they had passed in 2010 for thousands of dollars. Of the money that Talafous stole, he did not report it on his state income tax return for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Grewal said, “Lawyers have a duty to uphold the law and defend the interests of their clients. This prison sentence sends a strong message of deterrence that lawyers like Talafous who violate their duty and steal from their clients will be aggressively prosecuted.”

Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice added, “Talafous stole huge sums from multiple clients, but he revealed the true depth of his depravity when he stole nearly half a million dollars that had been placed in trust to provide for a child who lost his father. This prison sentence is just punishment for his callous betrayal.”

Talafous’ license to practice law has been suspended since August 2015 by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Do you think 26 years was more than what is usually given in this kind of case? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about attorneys sentenced for stealing client funds, read these articles:

Photo: bigtrial.net



 

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