Friday, November 13, 2015

NJ Lawyer Indicted for Stealing From Elderly Client

A disbarred New Jersey lawyer is facing charges that he fleeced an elderly client out of nearly $100,000.

A state grand jury on Nov. 9 indicted Jersey City solo Joseph Talafous Jr., 53, on charges of second-degree theft by deception and misapplication of entrusted property, according to a statement released by Acting Attorney General John Hoffman and Elie Honig, the director of the Division of Criminal Justice.

Talafous, a Toms River resident, was disbarred by consent in August, according to records maintained by the state Administrative Office of the Courts.

The division's Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau said Talafous stole more than $96,000 by making unauthorized withdrawals from the bank account and estate of an elderly man he represented. The victim was not identified.

Between November 2008 and November 2010, Talafous allegedly used his power of attorney to make numerous unauthorized withdrawals from an investment account of the client and, after the client died in early 2010, from the client's estate, the Attorney General's Office said.

Talafous is charged with falsely representing that the withdrawals, which totaled $96,020, represented fees for legal services. However, Talafous never submitted any bills or records of legal services to support the withdrawals. He allegedly stole $61,175 from the investment account and $34,845 from the estate, the Attorney General's Office said.

In his statement, Hoffman said the case was referred to the Division of Criminal Justice by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics.

"Lawyers are supposed to diligently guard the interests of their clients, but instead Talafous allegedly took advantage of this elderly client to the tune of $96,000, repeatedly stealing from the ailing man while he lived and then continuing to steal from his estate," Hoffman said in his statement. "Talafous' conduct was deplorable."

Talafous' voicemail was full and attempts to contact him for comment were unsuccessful.

Talafous faces a possible five- to 10-year prison sentence a $150,000 fine if convicted.

Full Article & Source: 
NJ Lawyer Indicted for Stealing From Elderly Client

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