Plainview lawyer accused of stealing client funds

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A Plainview attorney faces grand larceny charges and is accused of stealing money from a Brooklyn couple who hired him to represent them in a lawsuit, Nassau prosecutors said Wednesday.

Matthew Kogan, 40, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of third-degree grand larceny, a felony, according to a news release from District Attorney Kathleen Rice's office.

Kogan took money from a settlement that was supposed to go to the couple and deposited it into his personal operating account, using the money for personal and professional expenses and obligations -- including payroll, credit card and loan payments, Rice's office said.

If convicted, Kogan faces up to 21/3 to 7 years in prison. Nassau District Court Judge Douglas Lerose released him on his own recognizance. Kogan is due back in court on April 29.

"The attorney-client relationship is essential to the workings of our legal system and must be protected," Rice said in the release.

Prosecutors said a husband and wife hired Kogan in February 2013 to represent them in a breach of contract lawsuit. The case eventually was settled for $32,500, money that should have been deposited in Kogan's Attorney Trust Account. The funds then should have been paid to the couple.

Instead, the money was deposited into Kogan's operating account on Oct. 7, 2013. From Oct. 7 to Dec. 31, Kogan used the funds for personal and professional expenses, the release said.

In November 2013, the couple filed a complaint with Rice's Criminal Complaint Unit. After becoming aware of the investigation, Kogan paid $20,000 to the couple in February, leaving a balance of $12,500.

Kogan's attorney, Brian Griffin, of Garden City, said the funds were inadvertently deposited into the wrong account.

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"There was no criminal intent by Mr. Kogan," Griffin said. Once Kogan realized the mistake "he began repayment to his clients."

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