A guardianship attorney and her former paralegal were indicted today on charges of theft and failing to make required disposition of more than $800,000, Prosecutor Peter E. Warshaw, Jr. announced.
The charges stem from a three-year investigation conducted by the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office into the guardianship practice of attorney Lynn Kenneally,50,of Wall. The investigation revealed that Kenneally routinely received guardianship appointments in Monmouth and Ocean Counties for individuals (“wards”) whose interests Kenneally was supposed to faithfully represent, such as senior citizens deemed by judges of the Superior Court to lack the necessary mental faculties to manage their own affairs. In her capacity as a court-appointed guardian, Kenneally’s primary responsibility was the honest and faithful management of her wards’ finances. However, a forensic examination of Kenneally’s law practice revealed that, from October 2000 through December 2006, more than $800,000 of proceeds belonging to Kenneally’s wards was diverted into or through the personal bank accounts of Tara Howie, 40, of Brick, a former paralegal of Kenneally’s guardianship practice.
The investigation further revealed that Howie used approximately $500,000 of this money to pay for college tuition, mortgage payments, car payments and various other personal expenditures; and that Kenneally repeatedly overpaid bills on behalf of her wards, causing the issuance of refund checks that were ultimately diverted. To further conceal the theft scheme, mandatory accountings filed by Kenneally failed to disclose the existence of checks that were ultimately deposited into Howie’s personal accounts.
If convicted, Kenneally and Howie face a maximum potential custodial sentence often years in New Jersey State Prison. The next court proceeding will be the arraignment ofthe defendants, which will be scheduled within the next several weeks.
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Guardianship Attorney Indicted for Bilking $800,000 from Incapacitated Wards