FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 14, 2023
Brooklyn Lawyer Indicted for Allegedly Stealing
Nearly $1.5 Million from Three Clients
Allegedly Kept Home Sale Proceeds and Estate Funds
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that Brooklyn lawyer Salvatore Strazzullo has been arraigned on an indictment charging him with stealing close to $1.5 million from three clients he represented in real estate and estate proceedings.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Attorneys have an ethical duty to protect their clients’ interests, and we will hold accountable those who use their trusted position to steal from Brooklyn residents. The defendant in this case is a lawyer who allegedly betrayed his clients and failed to provide them with their money. Instead, he is accused of violating the trust of vulnerable individuals and using their funds to pay creditors and other expenses.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Salvatore Strazzullo, 51, whose law office is located in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Tomlinson on an indictment in which he is charged with one count of first-degree grand larceny, two counts of second-degree grand larceny and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud. The defendant was released without bail and ordered to return to court on January 17, 2024.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, the defendant represented a 79-year-old woman on the sale of her house on 67th Street in Bensonhurst. The proceeds of the sale were over $1.2 million. After the closing in September 2023, the client asked that the defendant give her the money, but he allegedly made excuses, claimed there were various delays and, to date, has not turned over her funds.
It is further alleged that the defendant represented another client, an 80-year-old man, on the sale of his property on 13th Avenue in Borough Park. The closing was in July 2022. In July of this year, the client requested that the defendant provide him with the balance of the sale proceeds, approximately $170,000. The defendant allegedly made excuses, stalled, delayed and, to date, has not turned over that money.
Finally, it is alleged that the defendant represented a 52-year-old woman in Surrogate’s Court proceedings pertaining to her husband’s estate. The defendant held the estate funds in his attorney escrow account and disbursed some of the assets to the client, who is the administrator and sole inheritor of the estate. Starting in May 2023, the client repeatedly asked that the defendant disburse approximately $96,000 that remained in the account, but he allegedly made excuses, stalled, delayed and, to date, has not turned over those funds.
The investigation revealed that much of the funds that were entrusted to the defendant by the three victims were allegedly used to pay creditors or to pay expenses that had no connection to the clients’ legal matters.
People who believe they have been victimized by this defendant are encouraged to contact the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2340 or to send an email to StrazzulloComplaints@brooklynda.org.
Supervising Financial Investigator Susan Ryan, of the District Attorney’s Asset Forfeiture and Crimes Against Revenue Bureau, Paralegal Sheila Jones and Intelligence Analyst Yacelys Corona, both of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division, and a Detective Investigator all assisted in the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Laura Neubauer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Adam Libove, Deputy Bureau Chief, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.