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Suspended lawyer charged with embezzling $400,000 from Brooklyn clients

Defendant allegedly stole settlement money from 9 clients and represented a plaintiff In civil case while suspended

February 1, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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An attorney who was suspended from practicing law in March 2021 has now been charged with embezzling approximately $400,000 from nine clients in Brooklyn and with practicing law while suspended.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez identified the defendant as Raleigh Douglas Herbert, 60, of Chatham, New Jersey. He was arraigned on Tuesday 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. 

Herbert was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 5, 2022.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Danny Chun. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

According to the investigation, from 2015 to 2021, Herbert, 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, he allegedly lied to his clients about why they did not receive the money. He allegedly blamed COVID-19 related court closures or claimed 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 charged 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. Herbert allegedly did not tell the client – who was set to receive a $750,000 settlement – that he had been 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.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

During District Attorney Gonzalez’s tenure, his office has prosecuted more than twelve attorneys for misconduct related to their work.

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.

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