A disbarred Garden City lawyer has been charged with stealing more than $150,000 from a pair of clients during home sales, prosecutors said Thursday.
Gregory Hesterberg, 67, ex-president of the Brooklyn Bar Association, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of second- and third-degree grand larceny, both felonies, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said.
Nassau County District Judge Eileen Goggin released Hesterberg on his own recognizance. He is due back in court Sept. 6. If convicted of the top charge, he faces a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison.
“This defendant was once elected by fellow attorneys to lead a prominent professional organization, but in private practice he allegedly stole more than $150,000 from the clients who trusted him to act in their best interest,” Singas said in a statement. “Attorneys have a special responsibility to protect their clients, and those who betray their professional obligations and break the law face aggressive prosecution by my office.”
Robert Harper, Hesterberg’s Garden City attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Hesterberg, a trusts and estates planning attorney, previously served as counsel to Brooklyn’s public administrator and was president of the Brooklyn Bar Association from 1990 to 1991. A bar association official said Hesterberg was no longer a member and declined to comment on his arrest.
In February 2013, Hesterberg was hired to settle the estate of a client’s longtime partner. After the sale of a home in Queens and the payment of taxes in June 2015, the client requested the balance of nearly $40,000 from Hesterberg, prosecutors said.
Hesterberg ignored all emails and phone calls for about six months and never paid the client, officials said.
In March 2015, Hesterberg owed a client nearly $119,000 from the sale of a home in Brooklyn, prosecutors said. When the client did not receive the money she was owed, she reported Hesterberg to the Grievance Committee for the 10th Judicial District.
Hesterberg was disbarred in April 2017 and the client filed a complaint with the district attorney’s office in August 2017.
Neither client has been reimbursed to date, prosecutors said.
Since 2012, the district attorney’s office has prosecuted more than 20 attorneys for misconduct.