A former real estate attorney from Lindenhurst was sentenced to a year in prison Wednesday for stealing more than $900,000 in a fraudulent mortgage investment scheme.
Dawn Hughes, 47, faced as much as 4 to 12 years in prison after she pleaded guilty last year to grand larceny. But state Supreme Court Justice Fernando Camacho had told her that if she made full restitution to her victims, he would consider giving her less time.
"She has done so," Camacho said in his Central Islip courtroom. "She has paid them back, every single dime."
Even so, Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Laura de Oliveira said Hughes still deserved significant time in an upstate prison.
"The people do not believe the defendant should essentially pay her way out of an appropriate sentence," de Oliveira said.
Defense attorney Scott Gross of Garden City said other factors should go to his client's credit. She gave herself up when she learned she was being investigated in 2016, he said, and voluntarily surrendered her law license.
"She's accepted responsibility," Gross said. Because Hughes is the sole caregiver for her mother, who suffers from dementia, he asked Camacho to consider sentencing her to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation.
Camacho said she deserved credit for trying to right her wrongs, but he said it's a serious issue when any lawyer breaks the law.
"I always tell law students, being a lawyer is the noblest profession anyone can aspire to," Camacho said to Hughes. "It's attorneys like you who give the profession a bad reputation."
Hughes solicited cash investments from clients, promising them they'd make it back with investments in short-term mortgages. She created false documents to facilitate the investments, but then pocketed the money for her own use, prosecutors said at the time of her arrest.