A Queens-based disbarred lawyer and Sands Point resident has been accused of stealing $150,000 from three of his clients.
Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced Wednesday that Michael Kohn of Sycamore Drive, who had an office called Kohn and Kohn in Fresh Meadows, has been charged with three counts of grand larceny.
“The defendant in this case is accused of breaching the trust of his clients and unjustly enriching himself,” Katz said. “The victims trusted the defendant to act on their behalf, when they hired him to handle various legal matters. Instead the defendant allegedly pocketed tens of thousands of dollars that should have been distributed to his clients. The defendant now faces serious charges and will be held accountable for these alleged criminal acts.”
Kohn was arraigned late Wednesday afternoon before Queens Criminal Court Judge Joanne Watters before being released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on Oct. 27. If convicted, Kohn could face up to 15 years in prison.
According to the charges, an investigation which included interviews with clients and detailed forensic review of bank records allegedly shows that Kohn stole funds held in multiple bank accounts that should have been dispersed to his clients.
“The victims, however, were either left empty-handed or given just a fraction of the funds they were due,” a statement from the DA’s office said.
The office, which withheld victims’ names, said that the first victim was an administrator for a deceased relative’s estate, and hired the defendant to handle the sale of property in Douglaston, Queens.
In June of 2013, the property sold for about $650,000 and the funds were deposited into an account controlled by Kohn.
“However, the victim only received $100,000 in proceeds from the sale of the real estate,” the office stated.
Continuing, the DA said, in July 2015, the second victim hired Katz to handle a personal injury case, whose civil matter was settled for $90,000.
“When the victim asked Kohn for the money, he allegedly told [the victim] that there was a delay due to an outstanding medical bill,” the office said. “That bill totaled about $4300. The victim allegedly never received a dime of the settlement money even though the funds were deposited in a bank account controlled by the defendant.”
The charges then state that on August 30, 2016, the third victim was the executor of an estate and hired Kohn to handle the sale of estate property in Woodside, Queens.
“The real estate sold for approximately $868,000 with $358,000 payable to the executor,” the statement said. “The victim received two checks in the amount of $75,000 and another for $25,000. Bank records allegedly showed that the account which held the funds as of June 30, 20l7 had a balance of just $19,000. The victim never received the remaining proceeds from the estate sale.”
Katz said that Kohn, 70, had voluntarily resigned from the bar in January 2019 for disciplinary reasons.
Assistant District Attorney Karlton Jarrett, of District Attorney’s Public Corruption Bureau, is prosecuting the case.
Garden City-based attorney Brian Griffin is representing Kohn. Efforts to contact Griffin for comment were unavailing.