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Former attorney gets prison for twice stealing client’s money

Stole Close to $500,000 from Clients; Represents Self in Sentencing Hearing

March 24, 2015 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
State Supreme Court Judge William Garnett. AP Photo/The Advance, Jan Somma-Hammel, Pool, File

A Brooklyn federal judge has sentenced an ex-lawyer to nearly a decade behind bars for stealing real estate escrow money from clients in numerous Brooklyn property sales. The defendant has been identified as Stephen Mitchell of South Orange, N.J.

Mitchell was sentenced last Friday to two to six years in prison by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice William Garnett following his conviction earlier this year on one count of second-degree grand larceny following a jury trial. The judge ordered the sentence to run consecutive to a sentence he handed down last year in a similar case for a total sentence of six to 18 years.

In 2006, Mitchell was hired by the property manager for the estate of Jacques Montrevil to remove the estate’s administrator and to complete the sale of property located at 3215 Church Ave. In November 2006, an amended contract of sale for that property was executed between representatives of the estate and Stephen Falcone, the prospective purchaser. Mitchell was present at the signing of the contract and accepted the $70,000 down payment from the buyer, made payable to himself. 

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The next day, Mitchell deposited the check into his escrow account and wrote a check for $65,500 from the account. At the closing of the property in 2008, Mitchell did not turn over the funds to complete the sale on that day or any point thereafter.

In 2013, Justice Garnett convicted the defendant Mitchell on larceny charges for stealing more than $400,000 from another client. In that case, Mitchell was hired in December 2005 to represent the estate of Charles Brown for the sale of his property located on St. James Place. Mitchell sold the property for $650,000, netting $411,082.50, which belonged to Brown’s estate.  As with the Montrevil estate, Mitchell deposited the money into his own escrow account, and then into three of his own bank accounts through March 2006.

Mitchell, 48, was also ordered to pay $70,000 and $411,082.50 in restitution to both estates.

According the New York Law Journal, Mitchell represented himself at the sentencing with Philip Smallman, of Brooklyn, serving as Mitchell’s court-appointed legal advisor.

-Information provided by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office; additional reporting by Charisma L. Troiano, Esq., of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle

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