David Frankel, 52, stole real estate proceeds to fund his own investments
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a West Hempstead attorney was sentenced today to three to nine years in prison and ordered to pay restitution for stealing more than $5.7 million from clients between September 2012 and February 2014. David Frankel, 52, pleaded guilty on January 10 before Acting Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty to Grand Larceny in the 1st Degree (a B felony). “Within days of receiving $5.7 million of his clients’ money to hold in escrow, this unscrupulous lawyer began stealing the funds, spending nearly all of it for his own personal purposes,” DA Singas said. “Thanks to our prosecutors and investigators this defendant will now go to prison and be forced to return the money to his former clients.” DA Singas said that Frankel represented seven realty companies between June 13, 2012 and September 12, 2012, with overlapping ownership in eight Brooklyn properties. The properties were refinanced and $5,769,281.17 was placed in escrow into an Interest on Lawyer Account, commonly known as an IOLA account. The companies were held by relatives and the principals were deciding how to distribute the funds. Several days after the money was deposited into the account, Frankel began drawing on it and using the money to fund his own unsuccessful investments and to make payments in unrelated real estate transactions. The account, in which other unrelated money was periodically deposited, was drawn down to a balance of $836.81 by February 28, 2014. Frankel was not authorized to use the funds for any purposes other than distributing them as instructed by the principals of the companies. The NCDA was alerted to the allegations and an investigation was opened in December 2015. The defendant was disbarred in October 2015. Assistant District Attorney Peter Mancuso of DA Singas’ Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case. Frankel is represented by Avraham Moskowitz, Esq.