FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, February 1, 2022
Suspended Lawyer Indicted for Embezzling $400,000 from Brooklyn Clients
Defendant Allegedly Stole Settlement Money from Nine Clients and Represented
A Plaintiff in A Civil Case In Brooklyn While Suspended
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that an attorney, who was suspended from practicing law in March 2021, has been charged with embezzling approximately $400,000 from nine clients in Brooklyn and practicing law while suspended.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Attorneys have a special duty to protect their clients’ interests, but this defendant allegedly betrayed that trust and his oath by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements owed to those he represented. The criminal misconduct alleged in this indictment cannot be tolerated in the legal profession, and we are committed to holding this defendant accountable and vindicating the rights of his alleged victims.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Raleigh Douglas Herbert, 60, of Chatham, New Jersey. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree and third-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, second-degree criminal contempt, and practicing law as an attorney while being suspended. The defendant was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 5, 2022.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, from 2015 to 2021, the defendant, who handled wrongful arrests and personal injury cases against New York City, embezzled approximately $400,000 from nine of his clients in Brooklyn by depositing checks received from negotiated settlements into his attorney escrow account.
To conceal these thefts, the defendant allegedly lied to his clients about why they did not receive the money, which included blaming COVID-19 related court closures or claiming that the victims had liens that prevented him from paying them when no such liens existed. The defendant is alleged to have spent much of the embezzled funds on various personal expenses and unrelated debts.
It is further alleged that, despite being suspended from practicing law in New York State as of March 5, 2021, the defendant continued to represent a client in a wrongful death lawsuit against the New York City Police Department. The defendant allegedly did not tell the client – who was set to receive a $750,000 settlement – he had been suspended.
During District Attorney Gonzalez’s tenure, the Office has prosecuted more than twelve attorneys for misconduct related to their work.
People who believe they have been victimized by this defendant are encouraged to contact the District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2340.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Jake A. Nasar of the District Attorney’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Bureau and Assistant District Attorney Adam Libove, Deputy Chief 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 Christopher Blank, Chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Bureau, and the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.