FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 1, 2021
Brooklyn Attorney Indicted for Allegedly Stealing Approximately $201,000 From Three Individuals in Legal Matters he Handled
Defendant Allegedly Withheld Down Payment in Real Estate Transaction,
Allegedly Kept Settlements for Two Clients in Personal Injury Cases
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brooklyn attorney has been arraigned on an indictment in which he is charged with several counts of grand larceny for allegedly stealing approximately $201,000 in funds he received, and was not entitled to, while representing clients.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly betrayed the trust of his clients and abused his power as an attorney, taking advantage of the escrow accounts he controlled to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars to which he was not entitled. We will now seek to hold him accountable for this serious breach.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Robert Santoriella, 55, of Yonkers, New York, who had an office in Brooklyn. He was arraigned today in Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice on an indictment in which he is charged with one count of second-degree grand larceny, two counts of third-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud. He was released without bail and ordered to return to court on March 17, 2021.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, between December 2018 and February 2021, the defendant represented an individual in the sale of a $1,310,000 lot in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It is alleged that the defendant received a $131,000 down payment from the buyer that he was to hold in escrow until closing. However, it is alleged, that when the deal fell through the defendant failed to return the down payment to the buyer.
Furthermore, it is alleged, between July 2019 and January 2021, the defendant received a $75,000 settlement check stemming from a personal injury action in which he represented the plaintiff. The defendant was entitled to $25,000 as his fee, according to the investigation, but in fact, it is alleged, never turned over any of the proceeds to his client.
Finally, it is alleged, between August 2019 and February 2021, the defendant received a $30,000 settlement check stemming from a personal injury action in which he represented the plaintiff. The defendant was entitled to $10,000 as his fee, according to the investigation, but in fact, it is alleged, never turned over any of the proceeds to his client.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Katherine Zdrojeski of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Laura Neubauer, Chief of the Public Integrity Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt