A West Hempstead attorney who prosecutors said stole nearly $6 million from clients was arraigned on grand larceny charges in First District Court in Hempstead on Monday, several hours after his surrender and arrest at the Nassau County district attorney's office in Mineola.
David Frankel, 50, was being held on $300,000 cash or bond after he answered charges of first- and second-degree grand larceny before District Court Judge Darlene Harris.
The office of acting District Attorney Madeline Singas said Frankel tapped into an escrow fund of $5.7 million, proceeds from the refinancing of mortgages on as many as eight multifamily dwellings in Brooklyn -- and took the money for his personal use in his own "investments and to make payments in unrelated real estate transactions."
Prosecutors said Frankel had depleted the account, which once contained $5,769,281.17 after he began representing the clients in June 2012, down to $836.81 by Feb. 28, 2014. The money belonged to seven realty companies that had overlapping ownership in the eight properties.
Frankel's attorney, Avraham Moskowitz of Manhattan, declined to comment.
"This attorney was trusted with more than $5.7 million and he allegedly betrayed that trust by using the money to fund his own investments," Singas said. "Lawyers are duty bound to represent their clients in an ethical manner and I encourage anyone who thinks that they have been defrauded by an attorney to contact our office."
Frankel faces a maximum prison term of 81/3 to 25 years if convicted on the top count. He is due back in court on Oct. 21.