Steven Morelli stole from 22 clients and was disbarred
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a now disbarred attorney, was sentenced today to 2-1/2 to 7-1/2 years in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from 22 clients.
Steven Morelli, 61, who maintained an office in Garden City, pleaded guilty in front of Acting Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty on April 17 to three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony) and five counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a D felony).
Prior to the plea, the defendant paid restitution in the amount of $170,000.00. As part of his sentence, the defendant must also pay restitution in excess of $600,000.00.
“This defendant’s clients trusted him to advocate on their behalf and protect their interests, but instead he betrayed them and stole hundreds of thousands in settlement funds,” DA Singas said. “This prosecution ensures that this unscrupulous lawyer will be held accountable for his crimes and that he will never practice law again.”
DA Singas said that from February 2015 through August 2015, the defendant retained and misused settlement checks from four clients totaling $150,000.00. After a joint investigation was conducted by the NCDA and the NCPD Crimes Against Property Squad, he was arrested by Nassau County Police detectives for that crime in February 2016.
The investigation continued after the initial arrest and uncovered 13 more victims, who had approximately $573,000.00 in stolen funds. The defendant was then re-arrested in May 2016 for those crimes. The joint investigation continued after the second arrest and revealed five additional clients who were victims of theft in the amount of approximately $64,000.00. In total, Morelli stole more than $785,000.00 from his clients.
The defendant used the money for personal purposes and to carry on his law practice. Because of the defendant’s plea to a felony charge, he was automatically disbarred.
Senior Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Contreras of DA Singas’ Government & Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case. Morelli is represented by Marc Gann, Esq. and Zeena Abdi, Esq.