Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Nassau County DA: Ex-Real Estate Lawyer "Nothing More Than A Common Thief!" For Stealing $500K+ From Several Clients That She Represented In Real Estate Deals

From the Office of the Nassau County, New York District Attorney:

  • Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced [] that a Bay Shore attorney has been sentenced to two to six years in prison after she pleaded guilty to stealing more than $573,000 from clients who hired her to represent them in real estate deals.

    Yvonne DeBenedetto, 46, pleaded guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree in September 2011. She was sentenced yesterday by Judge Francis Ricigliano.

    Rice said that in August 2009, DeBenedetto was given a check for $260,000 by a client to be held in escrow for the purchase of a new home. When the purchase of the home fell through, the client requested her money back. DeBenedetto issued her client two refund checks in December 2009 and January 2010, both of which bounced.

    In a separate incident in early 2009, DeBenedetto was retained by a different couple to handle the sale of their current home and purchase of a new home. As per an agreement between the victims and the purchasers of their home, $30,000 was to be held in escrow from the purchase of their home to ensure that the victims had vacated their home on time. After doing so, the victims requested that DeBenedetto issue them the escrow money. When they went to cash the check, however, they discovered that DeBenedetto had stopped payment on it.

    In addition, DeBenedetto stole $19,000 from a client she represented in a real estate deal that failed to close, $80,000 from a client she represented in a home sale, and more than $180,000 that was being held in escrow following the sale of a client’s home. DeBenedetto also forged the signature of a client she represented in an accident case on a settlement check for $4,000 and cashed it.

    Instead of respecting the trust place in her by her clients, this defendant used it to rob them blind,” Rice said. “She revealed herself to be nothing more than a common thief, and this sentence ensures that she will no longer be able to victimize another client.”

    DeBenedetto stopped practicing law in December 2010 due to her involvement in this case and resigned from the New York Bar Association for disciplinary reasons.
For the Nassau County DA press release, see Bay Shore Attorney Sentenced to Prison for Bilking Clients Out of More Than $573K (DeBenedetto sentenced to 2 to 6 years in prison after pleading guilty).

(1) The Lawyers’ Fund For Client Protection Of the State of New York may find itself being asked by the victims to step up and cover at least some of the losses they suffered. The Fund exists to protect legal consumers from dishonest conduct in the practice of law in the state, to preserve the integrity of the bar, to safeguard the good name of lawyers for their honesty in handling client money, and to promote public confidence in the administration of justice in the Empire State. It attempts to secure these goals by, among other things, reimbursing client money that is misused in the practice of law.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that 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.

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