|Thomas Lagan is brought into City Court by police officers after being arrested on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 in Albany, N.Y. (Brendan Lyons/Times Union)|
Prosecutors said Lagan and fellow lawyer and co-defendant Richard Sherwood plundered millions from family trusts they were responsible for overseeing.
Lagan, 60, of Cooperstown, who prosecutors said brazenly continued to use proceeds of the crime even after his arrest and was buying property in Otsego County, pleaded guilty in April to first-degree grand larceny Tuesday before state Supreme Court Justice Thomas Breslin in Albany. He pleaded guilty to federal charges in August.
Lagan is expected to serve his sentence in federal prison. Sherwood awaits sentencing.
So far, law enforcement has recovered $5.5 million in criminal proceeds from the $9.8 million larceny, prosecutors said.
Sherwood admitted he and Lagan wrote eight checks, each for $14,000, to one another, their wives and their children. They used thousands of dollars from the estates of clients to pay for the college tuition of Lagan's daughter.
The scheme evolved after Sherwood and Lagan, who practiced in the area of trusts and estates, began providing legal services and financial advice to local philanthropists Warren and Pauline Bruggeman, as well as Pauline's sister, Anne Urban, in 2006.
Warren Bruggeman, a Queens native who served as a naval officer in World War II, earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy and worked at General Electric in Schenectady at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory. He became a vice president at GE, where he overhauled a financially ailing nuclear program into a commercial success.
Sherwood had been advising the Bruggemans when they signed wills directing that all their assets were to go to charities, churches and civic associations, in addition to bequests to Anne Urban and Pauline's other sister, Julia Rentz, according to federal prosecutors.
Warren Bruggeman died in April 2009. Pauline Bruggeman died in August 2011. At the time of her death, her personal and trust assets were valued at about $20 million.
Following the woman's death, Sherwood and Lagan schemed to steal and launder millions of dollars from her estate and the estate of Anne Urban, who died in 2013. Sherwood and Lagan also diverted and transferred several million dollars that belonged to Rentz, who suffered from dementia and died in 2013, prosecutors said.
Lawyer who plundered millions from estates gets prison time