Sunday, June 11, 2017

Long Island Lawyer Gets 1 To 3 Years For Pilfering Nearly $500K From Three Victims In Unrelated Transactions; Among Bad Acts: Pocketing Buyer's $171K Held In Escrow For Home Purchase, Using Forged Documents To Score $300K Refinance Proceeds On Ex-Mother-In-Law's Commercial Property

From the Office of the Nassau County, New York District Attorney:
  • Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that an attorney from Great Neck has been sentenced to one to three years in prison for stealing nearly half a million dollars by embezzling a down payment from a couple selling their home and by fraudulently securing a mortgage loan in the name of a corporation owned by his former mother-in-law.(1)

    Daniel Spitalnic, 39, pleaded guilty before Acting Supreme Court Justice Meryl Berkowitz on March 28 to three counts of Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony).

    The defendant was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $496,602.39.

    “Attorneys are barred from comingling client funds with their own, but this defendant flagrantly violated his ethical obligations and our criminal laws when he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from clients and his former mother-in-law,” DA Singas said. “When an attorney abuses their clients’ trust and steals from those whose interests they are retained to protect, my office will hold them accountable and seek restitution for their victims, just as we are doing here.”

    DA Singas said that Spitalnic applied for and obtained a $300,000 loan in March 2015 by falsely representing himself as the part owner and officer of a corporation solely owned by his former mother-in-law. The loan was secured by a mortgage on a commercial property in Great Neck, and the defendant used the money on personal items such as rent, travel, entertainment, food and other miscellaneous expenses.

    Spitalnic’s former mother-in-law became aware of suspicious activity in May 2015 when she went to pay real estate taxes and learned that the taxes were already paid by a title company. She confronted the defendant, who said he took out the mortgage because he owed money and told her that he would paid it back. Spitalnic then gave his former mother-in-law a Satisfaction of Mortgage document that claimed that the loan had been satisfied. The document, however, which was filed with the Nassau County Clerk’s Office in May, was a forgery.

    In the second case, the defendant represented a family that was selling a home in Manhasset. A purchaser paid a down payment by check in June of 2015 in the amount of $171,500 which was to be held in escrow by Spitalnic pending the closing. The closing on the property was held in September 2015, but the escrow money – minus $7,460 due to a title insurance company – was never received by the sellers. The check issued by Spitalnic to the title insurance company in the amount of $7,460 did not clear due to insufficient funds in the escrow account.

    At the time of the plea, the defendant also admitted to the theft of approximately $25,000 from another client which was included as part of the overall restitution by civil judgment ordered by the court.
Source: Attorney Sentenced for Stealing Nearly $500,000 in Multiple Thefts (Daniel Spitalnic defrauded a real estate client and fraudulently secured a loan on a property he did not own).
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(1) For "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.  ripoff reimbursement

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