Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the arrest of STUART SCHLESINGER for defrauding his clients by failing to pay them millions of dollars in personal injury settlements that SCHLESINGER had obtained on their behalf. SCHLESINGER was arrested today by the FBI in Westhampton, New York, and was presented in Manhattan federal court before Chief U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara stated: “As alleged, Stuart Schlesinger violated the trust of his clients – and the oath he took as an attorney – by lying about the proceeds of his clients’ settlements and keeping the funds for himself. Schlesinger’s alleged actions and greed victimized those already in difficult situations. Thanks to the FBI’s diligent investigation, Schlesinger will now have to answer for his crimes in federal court.”
Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez stated: “As alleged, Schlesinger was supposed to provide legal services for personal injury cases – not take more than $3 million in settlements proceeds to pay his personal expenses. Today’s arrest is a step forward in restoring the public’s trust and a reminder that this type of dishonorable behavior will not go unpunished.”
According to the allegations in the criminal Complaint, SCHLESINGER was a named partner at the law firm of Julien & Schlesinger, P.C., until his disbarment by the New York State Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, on or about September 15, 2015. From at least October 2008 to in or about December 2015, SCHLESINGER executed a scheme to defraud his clients by failing to pay them the proceeds from personal injury settlements that SCHLESINGER had obtained on their behalf. As part of the scheme, SCHLESINGER falsely represented to his clients, by means of telephone calls and e-mail communications, that he had not yet received settlement proceeds and that he was unable to distribute settlement proceeds because of ongoing litigation involving the clients’ cases. In reality, SCHLESINGER deposited settlement proceeds into his law firm’s bank account and then transferred those funds to an operating account to pay the law firm’s expenses and his own personal expenses.
The complaint alleges that SCHLESINGER defrauded at least eight victims of over $3 million in settlement proceeds.
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The Complaint charges SCHLESINGER, 75, of Westhampton, New York, with one count of wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
Mr. Bharara praised the FBI’s outstanding investigative efforts. Mr. Bharara also thanked the Departmental Disciplinary Committee of the New York Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, for its assistance in this investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Laroche is in charge of the prosecution.
The charge in the Complaint constitutes merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.