Friday, December 9, 2011

Lawyer Who Copped Plea To Ripping Off $730K From 11 Clients Gets Extension On Prison Deferral Deal; Judge Says He'll Serve His 1-3 Yrs No Matter What

In Westchester County, New York, The Journal News reports:

  • A disbarred real estate lawyer who was supposed to go to prison Friday for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy clients got a brief reprieve in the hope he can pay more money back to his victims.

  • Bruce Mogavero, an Eastchester resident who operated out of Yonkers, was set to receive a 1- to 3-year sentence after pleading guilty to grand larceny and fraud in Westchester County Court. He now will remain free until at least Jan. 24, when he must come to court with $50,000.

  • His attorney, Andrew Rubin, promised Mogavero would pay $25,000 a month in restitution if the sentencing was delayed until April. Mogavero turned over a check for $169,350 today, which was a condition of his plea and sentencing promise.

  • Assistant District Attorney Berit Hayes-Huseby argued against the delay, saying there was no proof Mogavero could pay that monthly sum. She said Mogavero, whose original sentencing date was Oct. 25, betrayed the trust of his clients and kept them in the dark for years about where their money had gone.

  • Acting state Supreme Court Justice Richard Molea gave Mogavero about seven weeks to keep his promise and remain free through April. If he doesn't come up with the money, he'll go to prison Jan. 24.

  • Mogavero pleaded guilty to stealing from 11 clients, including a Tuckahoe homeowner and a Yonkers apartment seller, between 2008 and Jan. 1, 2011 by taking money that was supposed to stay in their escrow accounts. More victims were found this year, prosecutors said.

  • He was ordered to pay a total of $731,710, but his lawyer said about a third of that sum was a personal loan that got rolled into the restitution order. He still owes more than $550,000 to his victims.

  • In an interview with The Journal News last year, Mogavero, 55, said he borrowed the money so he could keep his business afloat to help struggling homeowners fight foreclosure.He said he helped more than 200 people stay in their homes, and had already repaid some money.

  • The judge said he was moved by the number of letters he received urging a more lenient sentence. Mogavero's family and friends packed an entire side of the courtroom during the court proceeding.However, Molea also said several of Mogavero's victims wrote letters as well, urging a harsher sentence.

  • The judge said Mogavero would serve the 1-to-3-year prison sentence, no matter what.

Source: Judge gives real estate Robin Hood more time to pay back victims.

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