MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a disbarred attorney who failed to appear for sentencing in July 2015 on a grand larceny charge was sentenced today by Judge Robert Bogle to nine months in jail.
Reinelda Elizabeth Urena de Checo, 45, pleaded guilty before Judge Scott Fairgrieve on August 15, 2014 to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony). At the time of the plea, the judge committed to a sentence of probation.
Following the defendant’s 2014 guilty plea to Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, she moved to Washington, D.C. and never returned to Nassau County for sentencing, leading to the issuance of a bench warrant for her arrest on September 29, 2015.
The defendant was given several chances to return to Nassau County, but after absconding from the court for more than two years, investigators from the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office tracked the defendant to Washington, D.C., and coordinated with the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia and she was arrested on October 27, 2017. After the defendant waived extradition, NCDA investigators traveled to Washington D.C., and transported the defendant to Nassau County.
“This crooked former attorney scammed her clients out of more than $27,000 and she fled the state after pleading guilty to her crimes,” DA Singas said. “Instead of a probationary sentence, her effort to evade justice has landed her behind bars.”
DA Singas said on three separate occasions in 2013, the defendant, who was a practicing attorney at the time, was retained to perform legal work for clients.
The defendant was hired in June 2013 by the owner of a Hempstead barber shop to represent him in a civil matter. The owner gave de Checo $10,000.00 in cash, which was to be used to pay for a settlement in his case. Shortly thereafter, de Checo mailed a check drawn on an escrow account to the attorney representing the other party; however, the check was returned for insufficient funds. Although de Checo promised to send a new check to the other attorney, she never did so. In addition, she stopped answering calls from her client and did not respond to his letters.
Also in June 2013, a Hempstead restaurant owner hired de Checo to represent him in a landlord/tenant case. The restaurant owner gave de Checo a check for $10,600.00 which was to be used towards a settlement of the case. The defendant informed her client that the check should be made out to her. However, rather than depositing the check in her escrow account and forwarding payment to the other party in the case, de Checo cashed the check, and did not forward the funds as required. De Checo eventually stopped answering calls from her client about the missing funds.
Additionally, in May 2013 defendant represented a client in the purchase of a property, in which the client gave the defendant a deposit of $6,125.00 Financing for the purchase fell through, and instead of returning the money to her client, the defendant kept the deposit.
In addition to her sentence of jail time, the defendant was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $27,025 to the three complainants.
De Checo submitted her resignation from the practice of law, and was disbarred on Jan. 29, 2014.
Since 2012, the NCDA has prosecuted more than 20 attorneys for misconduct.
Brian Heid, Unit Chief of DA Singas’ Financial Crimes Bureau is prosecuting this case and was aided by District Attorney Investigators Elizabeth Rye and William Walsh. The defendant is represented by Richard B. Stafford, Esq.