A disbarred Long Island attorney was arrested and charged with engaging in the unauthorized practice of law and stealing $372,500 in escrow funds from a client he represented in the sale of a $7.4 million apartment building in Manhattan, the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
Gregg A. Luckman, 53, of Bellmore, was arraigned Friday in Nassau District Court and charged with grand larceny in the second degree, a C felony, and practice of law by an attorney who has been disbarred, suspended, or convicted of a felony, an E felony.
If convicted of the top charge he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, the news release said.
"My office will continue to hold attorneys accountable for betraying the trust of their clients and their oath to uphold the law," said District Attorney Madeline Singas in the news release.
Luckman’s Hauppauge and Hempstead-based attorney, Peter Brill, said his client resigned from the bar a couple of years ago but had been an attorney in good standing for over 25 years. He said he had been working with the client to pay him back.
"This was a situation that he was aware of and he already had an arrangement with the complainant to pay him back," Brill said Friday by telephone. "He had paid him back a significant amount of money and was still intent on doing so, so it’s something that would have been resolved whether or not he had been arrested."
The news release said Luckman was disbarred on July 25, 2018, by the Appellate Division, Second Department, after submitting a sworn affidavit to a department grievance committee in January 2018 in support of his application to resign as an attorney.
Luckman’s affidavit acknowledged that he was the subject of an investigation being conducted by the committee involving allegations of professional misconduct, including the misappropriation of client funds and failure to safeguard funds held in escrow. As part of the affidavit, Luckman acknowledged and agreed that pending the issuance of an order from the committee accepting his resignation, he would not undertake to represent any new clients or accept any retainers for future legal services to be rendered. He further acknowledged and agreed that there would be no transactional activity in any fiduciary account to which he had access, other than for payment of funds held therein on behalf of clients or others entitled to receive them.
Despite Luckman’s affidavit, he was hired as an attorney and began representing the client in the sale of the Manhattan apartment building on June 20, 2018, the news release said. After being disbarred Luckman allegedly continued to represent the client at the closing of the sale of the property that occurred on Oct. 3, 2018.
As part of the sale, the purchaser provided Luckman with a down payment of $555,000 to be held in Luckman’s escrow account located in Nassau County. Instead of releasing these funds to his client, Luckman allegedly made a partial payment to his client of $175,000 from other accounts and withdrew the escrow funds for himself.
The Nassau County district attorney’s financial crimes bureau asks anyone who believes they have been a victim of Luckman to contact the bureau at 516-571-2149.
Luckman is due back in court on May 14.