Lawyer Charged with Stealing Escrow Funds & Failing to Pay Off Outstanding Mortgage

Allison Tussey —  October 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

Steve Weinstock, Roslyn Heights, New York, an attorney, has been arrested for allegedly stealing $720,000 held in an escrow account, as well as selling an East Hills, New York, property owned in the name of his law firm and pocketing over $700,000 in proceeds.

The defendant was arrested and arraigned on the following charges:Four counts of Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony); Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the 2nd Degree (a D felony); and Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the 1st Degree (an E felony).

Nassau District Court Judge Andrew Engel set bail at $200,000 bond or $100,000 cash. Weinstock faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top charge against him. He is due back in court on Nov. 10.

In or about April 2014, Weinstock’s former law partner received a package from Weinstock that included a handwritten statement written by Weinstock that there was escrow money missing in the amount of $720,000, and that Weinstock sold an East Hills property without satisfying an outstanding mortgage loan.

All of these activities were done without the ex-law partner’s knowledge.

The former law partner then referred the matter to DA investigators, who revealed that Weinstock had taken the $720,000 placed in an escrow account that constituted separate down payments for two sales of commercial condominium units in New York City.

In addition to the escrow thefts, evidence revealed that Weinstock’s law firm purchased a property in East Hills in 2008, took out a mortgage on the property in 2010, and then Weinstock on behalf of the law firm sold the property in 2013 without paying off the outstanding mortgage.

The buyers’ lender paid approximately $608,000 directly to Weinstock’s law firm. At the closing, the buyers paid Weinstock approximately $117,000, in addition to the $50,000 down payment paid by the purchasers at the time of contract – for a total of approximately $775,000 in proceeds from the sale.

A forged Satisfaction of Mortgage was filed in the Nassau County Clerk’s office to conceal an outstanding mortgage loan amount of approximately $485,000 on the property.

Even after the closing, Weinstock continued to make payments on the outstanding mortgage loan without notifying the lender or the buyers that a lien for the property had not been satisfied. The balance of the loan at the time the scheme was revealed was approximately $483,000. The outstanding loan is not included in the total amount stolen by Weinstock as part of the scheme.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the arrest.

Assistant District Attorney Marshall Trager, chief of DA Rice’s Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau, is prosecuting the case. Weinstock is represented by Kenneth Keith, Esq.

“Attorneys shouldn’t steal from their clients, much less their law partner, mortgage company, and real estate buyers who had no idea there was an unpaid mortgage on their property,” DA Rice said. “Those who are sworn to follow the law should know better.”

Allison Tussey

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