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Posted on: June 13, 2017

Disbarred Attorney Sentenced to 1-3 Years for Stealing more than $900,000 from Clients’ Estate Funds

Wagner, Robert A. (2)

Robert Wagner was arrested on two separate occasions

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a disbarred attorney was sentenced yesterday to one to three years in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $597,024.10 for stealing from his clients’ estates.

Robert Alan Wagner, 63, of Bellmore, pleaded guilty before Judge Robert Bogle on March 20 to two counts of Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony).

“This defendant swindled his clients, stealing more than $900,000 and used it to enrich himself and his business,” DA Singas said. “Our Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau has prosecuted more than 15 attorneys in recent years for scamming their clients and this sentence should send a clear message that lawyers who break the law will face serious consequences.”

DA Singas said that Wagner was first arrested in September 2016 for allegedly stealing more than $400,000 which were the proceeds from the sale of the decedent’s home. At that time, he was released on $200,000 bail with a requirement that he wear a monitor tracking device as well as that he surrender his passport.

The defendant paid most of the beneficiaries their entitled bequests prior to the commencement of the DA’s investigation, with the last beneficiary receiving $100,000 subsequent to the investigation and prior to the defendant’s arrest.

The first investigation and review of bank records led to Wagner’s second arrest in November 2016. Wagner was retained by the administrator of a French estate to facilitate the transfer of money from the decedent’s Suffolk County-based bank accounts to accounts in France in November 2013. The defendant was not authorized to distribute, transfer or use the estate funds. However, the investigation revealed that Wagner transferred the estate funds into four of his own Nassau County-based bank accounts between June 2014 and January 2016, ultimately stealing more than $500,000.

Between May 2014 and April 2015, the French estate administrator repeatedly attempted to contact Wagner to verify the status of the funds transfer. During that time the defendant gave false excuses, saying that he was attending to personal and family health issues, on vacation, or waiting for court approval to transfer funds. The defendant used the money for personal purposes, including cash withdrawals in excess of $250,000 and payments to support his law practice.

The investigation continued after the second arrest and revealed an additional victim and client theft from a Family Trust of approximately $11,000. In total, Wagner stole more than $900,000.00 from his clients.

The defendant was legally practicing law when he was retained, but was disbarred by the Appellate Division of the New York State Court of Appeals on March 11, 2015, proximate to the time when he was to facilitate the transfer of estate funds. The disbarment was unrelated to this matter.

Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Contreras of DA Singas’ Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case. Wagner is represented by Joel R. Weiss, Esq.

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