Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced the arrest of a Roslyn Heights attorney for stealing $720,000 held in an escrow account, as well as selling an East Hills property owned in the name of his law firm and pocketing over $700,000.
Steve Weinstock was arrested today by DA investigators and arraigned on charges of four counts of second degree grand larceny, second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, four counts of second degree grand larceny and first degree offering a false instrument for filing. Nassau District Court Judge Andrew Engel set bail at $200,000 bond or $100,000 cash, according to Rice.
Weinstock faces a maximum sentence of five to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top charge. He is due back in court on Nov. 10.
“Attorneys shouldn’t steal from their clients, much less their law partner, mortgage company, and real estate buyers who had no idea there was an unpaid mortgage on their property,” Rice said. “Those who are sworn to follow the law should know better.”
Rice said around April, Weinstock’s former law partner received a package that included a handwritten statement written by Weinstock, stating there was $720,000 in escrow money missing, and that Weinstock sold an East Hills property without satisfying an outstanding mortgage loan.
All of these activities were done without the ex-law partner’s knowledge, Rice said.
The former law partner then referred the matter to DA investigators. Authorities revealed that Weinstock had taken the $720,000 placed in an escrow account that constituted separate down payments for two sales of commercial condominium units in New York City.
In addition to the escrow thefts, Rice said, evidence revealed that Weinstock’s law firm purchased a property in East Hills in 2008, took out a mortgage on the property in 2010, and then Weinstock on behalf of the law firm sold the property in 2013 without paying off the outstanding mortgage.
The buyers’ lender paid approximately $608,000 directly to Weinstock’s law firm, according to Rice. Buyers paid Weinstock approximately $117,000, in addition to the $50,000 down payment paid by the purchasers at the time of contract closing, totaling $775,000 in proceeds from the sale.
A forged satisfaction of mortgage was filed in the Nassau County Clerk’s office to conceal an outstanding mortgage loan amount of approximately $485,000 on the property, Rice said.
Even after the closing, Weinstock continued to make payments on the outstanding mortgage loan without notifying the lender or the buyers that a lien for the property had not been satisfied, according to Rice. The balance of the loan at the time the scheme was revealed was approximately $483,000.
The outstanding loan is not included in the total amount stolen by Weinstock as part of the scheme, Rice said.