Saturday, July 18, 2009

NYC Controller Urges All Brooklyn Residents To "Make Out A Will ASAP!" To Avoid Risk Of Getting Fleeced By Public Administrator's Office

In Brooklyn, New York, the New York Daily News reports:

  • Brooklyn's scandal-plagued court system gets a new black eye in a scathing audit that found the borough's public administrator's office riddled with "mismanagement and laziness." The city controller's office uncovered shoddy recordkeeping, suspicious real estate deals and auctions run by a shadowy company that vanished when auditors started asking questions.
  • "From the time my auditors began this audit, there seemed to be one startling revelation after another with regard to the lack of detail paid to the process of distributing and accounting for the estates of the deceased," Controller William Thompson said.
  • Surrogate judges in each borough appoint a public administrator to oversee the estates of people who die without wills. Thompson's auditors found a "culture of mismanagement and laziness" in Brooklyn's public administrator office. Things were such a mess that Thompson urged all Brooklyn residents to "make out a will as soon as possible" - avoiding the risk of being bilked by the office.
For more, including descriptions of a couple of fishy-smelling deals involving real estate owned by deceased property owners, see Audit reveals shady shenanigans in Brooklyn courts.
For an example of what happened to one alleged victim of the Brooklyn public administrator's office, see:
It appears that the Brooklyn office of the public administrator should be getting used to allegations of the "grave robbing" ripoffs of the dead, the near-dead, and others who are otherwise incapacitated, based on an April 8, 2006 story in the New York Daily News (see B'KLYN TOMB-RAID PROBE: EX-JUDGE FOCUS IN THEFTS FROM VICS WITH NO WILLS):
  • A WIDE-RANGING SECRET PROBE of the Brooklyn public administrator's office, its booted surrogate judge and contractors hired by the office has uncovered brazen thefts from the assets of people who died without wills, the Daily News has learned.
Based on the following excerpt from a June 29, 1988 story in The New York Times, shenanigans in the office of the public administrator may have been taking place for decades. See 3 in Surrogate's Office Charged With Thefts:
  • Three investigators from the Brooklyn and Bronx Public Administrators' offices were arrested yesterday and charged with falsifying public records and stealing valuables from rooms they believed had been occupied by people who died without leaving a will. The arrests ended an elaborate two-year sting investigation into the city's Public Administrators' offices, said the city Investigations Commissioner, Kevin B. Frawley, who conducted the inquiry with State Attorney General Robert Abrams and State Comptroller Edward V. Regan. An inspector for the Queens Public Administrator's office was arrested in March. The city's Public Administrators' offices handle the estates of people who have died without leaving a properly executed will.(1)
According to a June 1, 2009 Daily News story, the Bronx public administrator's office hasn't been so hot lately, either. See Audit Court invested Bronx estate cash illegally.
Go here for other posts on the escapades of public administrators' / public guardians' offices when taking over the assets of the dead and incapacitated.
(1) For other stories involving the Brooklyn Public Administrator's office, see:
  • New York Daily News (August 18, 2002): WRINGING OUT THE DEAD IN BROOKLYN (If there's no will, court grabs big hunk of estate),
  • New York Daily News (May 29, 2002): Spitzer to probe legal fees (Eying payouts to Brooklyn Surrogate Court counselor),
  • New York Daily News (May 15, 2002): B'KLYN COURT PANEL CLOSED TO THE NEWS (The oversight commission for state Surrogate Court administrators marked its first meeting in five years yesterday by barring a Daily News reporter from the session),
  • New York Daily News (May 9, 2006): L.I. LAND SALE SCANDAL. COURT OKD AUCTION OF DEEDED SITE (Officials in Brooklyn Surrogate's Court improperly sold off a piece of East End real estate - never notifying the property's rightful owners, the Daily News has learned),
  • New York Daily News (December 16, 2008): AG seeking payback on estate fees (Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is seeking to reopen 170 estates of deceased people in order to reimburse heirs who were gouged by a greedy Brooklyn lawyer, the Daily News has learned. Legal papers were filed yesterday in Surrogate's Court to recover exorbitant legal fees charged by Louis Rosenthal, former counsel to the Brooklyn public administrator),
  • New York Times (February 3, 1988): Wider Inquiry Into Stealing From the Dead (New York State and city investigators, expanding their inquiry into thefts of property from the dead, seized accounting records yesterday from Public Administrators' offices in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx),
  • New York Law Journal (July 1, 2005): Judge Loses Seat After Showing 'Shocking Disregard' for Law (New York state's high court finds actions constituted removable misconduct). daily eagle retired judge

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