A former North Castle real estate attorney admitted Wednesday that he stole nearly $2 million from banks and clients.
Kevin Hymes, 40, of Evergreen Road, faces up to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty in Westchester County Court to scheming to defraud, two counts of second-degree grand larceny, two counts of third-degree grand larceny, all felonies.
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said Hymes' fraud went on for five years from January 2007 up to June 12. His actions "caused serious financial damage to his victims, who entrusted him with their personal affairs and bank accounts," she said.
"He defrauded numerous clients regarding sales and purchases of multiple real estate properties throughout the metropolitan area," she said. "The public must have confidence that their sales and purchases are being honestly and ethically transacted, or as we have witnessed in the housing crisis that we are only now beginning to recover, the whole system will collapse."
Hymes' lawyer did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Hymes, who had a law office in White Plains, has surrendered his license as a result of disciplinary action by the state, according to state court records.
Hymes also was convicted last June in federal court in Manhattan for being a member of a real estate $66 million conspiracy in which he and at least three other men submitted more than 100 mortgage applications with false information to banks for properties throughout the metropolitan region. He was sentenced Monday in that case to 20 years in prison and ordered to forfeit more than $7 million to the government.
His state sentence will run concurrent to his federal sentence, prosecutors said.
In the state case, Hymes admitted Wednesday he stole $1.4 million from banks who hired him to be their closing agent at several real estate deals.
One real estate client gave Hymes $318,453.33 to hand over to the seller at the closing of a real estate deal. But Hymes never told the client the date and time of the closing and kept the money for himself, prosecutors said.
In another 2010 case, Hymes stole a $10,000 real estate deposit from a client.
Then in 2011, he represented a seller in a real estate deal where the buyer handed over a $123,500 deposit. Hymes never gave the money to his client. He pocketed the money, prosecutors said.
Hymes is set to be sentenced April 23 in White Plains by Westchester County Court Judge Richard Molea.