A phony lawyer, who was convicted of stealing $192,000 from people who sought to buy a party boat business, was sentenced to three to nine years in prison, Nassau prosecutors said on Friday.
William McCoy, 55, a Huntington business consultant who flunked the bar numerous times and never held a law license, had faced a prison term of 5 to 15 years, authorities have said.
“Despite a lengthy prison sentence for this defendant, honest, hardworking people will feel the emotional and financial devastation of their lost money for years to come,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said in a statement.
She advised anyone who hires an attorney to first check on their standing and registration with the Office of Court Administration.
After an 11-day trial before acting Supreme Court Justice Helene Gugerty, a jury on Feb. 13 convicted McCoy of two felonies — grand larceny and scheme to defraud — after deliberating about 90 minutes, Singas said.
An attorney for McCoy, who did graduate from law school, had no immediate comment.
In June 2014, the defendant was hired to work on purchasing a Freeport-based firm’s two boats and other assets; he had told his victims he was an attorney when they first met, Singas said.
McCoy opened a business checking account; its checks had the term “escrow” printed on the top, prosecutors said.
Deceived into thinking it was a genuine escrow account, the victims wrote a check for $200,000 to be used when the deal closed; only $8,000 was authorized to be spent, according to the prosecutors.
The sale was supposed to close in March 2015, but by then there was only $78 left in the account, they said.
McCoy had spent $192,000 to pay rent, car loans and other personal expenditures, prosecutors said.
The defendant claimed he had the escrowed money; later, he said it paid for his fees, but during the trial, other checks were presented that showed he had already collected his fees from the victims, prosecutors said.
McCoy was arrested on March 27, 2017 after being indicted. His attorney was not immediately available to comment.