A disgraced former attorney admitted Monday to stealing more than a million dollars from two former clients, one severely disabled and the other elderly, in schemes Nassau prosecutors said included having an impostor pose as one of the victims.
Janice Jessup, 68, of Baldwin and Charlotte, North Carolina, pleaded guilty in Nassau County Court to first-degree and second-degree grand larceny charges.
Jessup spent the “ill-gotten gains” on herself and her family, including buying a vintage Corvette and supporting her then-husband’s limo company, Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement.
As part of a plea bargain, Jessup admitted that in 2010 she’d stolen more than $1.1 million from a client -- a woman who’d owned land the government seized in an eminent domain case and used for a New Cassel community center.
Authorities said Jessup also pleaded guilty to taking about $85,000 from a woman who was 85 when she hired Jessup in 2008 to help get a reverse mortgage on her Roosevelt home.
The ex-lawyer’s April 2015 arrest followed a 2010 appellate court decision disbarring her after she’d faced more than a dozen professional misconduct allegations.
Acting State Supreme Court Justice Jerald Carter told Jessup he’d sentence her March 16 to 3 to 9 years in prison and she’d have to repay what she stole.
Defense attorney Ira Weissman told Newsday that Jessup had “great remorse,” adding: “I think to the day she dies, she’s going to try to repay what she’s taken.”
Prosecutors said Jessup never gave the client from the eminent domain case the money the government paid out after convincing court officials the physically and mentally challenged woman wanted Jessup to collect it for her.
They had alleged Jessup had someone impersonate the client to fool a court official during home visits aimed at investigating the woman’s health and whether she had consented to the money’s release to Jessup.
In the other case, prosecutors said Jessup got a power of attorney document “purportedly bearing the signature” of the reverse mortgage client, and in 2012 stole more than $47,000 from a bank credit line and other money from the victim, who was in a nursing home.
Jessup remains free on $50,000 bond, but has to wear a GPS device. Carter first set her bond at $150,000, but lowered it later in April after Jessup’s attorney at the time said she hadn’t gotten her diabetes medication until the sixth day she’d been in Nassau’s jail.