A former Roslyn Heights lawyer was sentenced Friday to 6 months in prison and will be made to pay $1.2 million in restitution for stealing $720,000 in an escrow account and for pocketing money from the sale of an East Hills property that he was not authorized to sell, prosecutors said.
Steve Weinstock pleaded guilty on April 8, 2015, to four counts of grand larceny in the second degree, criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, prosecutors said.
He was remanded at the time of the plea by Supreme Court Justice Angelo Delligatti and also lost his law license.
Weinstock already served a year in jail and was sentenced Friday to 6 months in prison, 5 years’ probation and restitution in the total amount of $1,227,710.15.
“The defendant’s greed knew no bounds and he stole from his clients, his law partner, a mortgage company and real estate buyers who were unaware that there was an unpaid mortgage on their property,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement. “These brazen thefts are particularly troubling because the defendant was in business with his then law partner for more than 10 years.”
Singas said Weinstock’s then-law partner received a package in April 2014 from the defendant that included a handwritten note written by Weinstock that there was escrow money missing in the amount of $720,000.
The letter also said Weinstock sold an East Hills property without satisfying an outstanding mortgage loan.
Both actions were done without the partner’s knowledge or permission. The case was then referred to the district attorney’s office by the former partner.
Investigators learned that Weinstock had taken the $720,000 from an escrow account that constituted separate down payments for two sales of commercial condo units in New York City. Evidence also showed Weinstock’s law firm purchased a property in East Hills in 2008 and then took out a mortgage on it two years later.
Weinstock sold the property in 2013 without paying off the outstanding mortgage.
Authorities say the buyer’s lender paid roughly $608,000 directly to Weinstock’s law firm. And at the closing, the buyers paid Weinstock $117,000, in addition to the $50,000 down payment paid by the purchasers at the time of contract. Proceeds from the sale reached $775,000.
A forged Satisfaction of Mortgage was filed in the Nassau County Clerk’s office to conceal an outstanding mortgage loan amount of about $485,000 on the property, the district attorney’s office said.
After the closing, Weinstock continued to make payments on the outstanding mortgage loan without notifying the lender or the buyers that a lien on the property had not been paid, they said.
Authorities say Weinstock used the money for various personal and professional expenses, including loan repayments, credit card payments and cash withdrawals.
The clients who were victims of Weinstock’s theft of two down payments are receiving full restitution of $370,000 and $350,000 from the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection of the State of New York, the district attorney said.
Weinstock’s attorney, Kenneth Keith, was unable to be reached for comment.