A disbarred Hicksville attorney pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing a $40,000 down payment from clients who were selling their home, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said Wednesday.
Constantine Giannakos, 51, pleaded guilty to a felony count of third-degree grand larceny, with sentencing set for May 10, according to a release from the district attorney’s office. If he hands over the $40,000 restitution at that time, he’s expected to get a sentence of 5 years of probation. If not, the expectation is for 1 to 3 years in prison, the release said.
“He has every intention to pay back the victims, and he will do so in the next few weeks,” said his attorney Eric Franz, who has offices in Mineola and Manhattan. “I am confident that he will not repeat the same mistakes again.”
"Instead of faithfully representing his clients, this defendant stole $40,000 from them and spent it at The Home Depot and on personal credit card payments,” Singas said. “When an attorney abuses their client’s trust and steals from them, my office will hold them accountable for their crimes.”
Giannakos was representing a Hicksville woman and her ex-husband in the sale of their home, with the sellers and the home buyers agreeing to a sales contract on Feb. 4, 2017.
When it was signed, the buyer's attorney made the $40,000 down-payment check payable to “Constantine Giannakos, as attorney,” and it was deposited into his escrow account, where it was supposed to be held until closing, prosecutors said.
From the time the contract was signed until the scheduled Sept. 27, 2017, closing date, Giannakos held meetings with one of the home sellers at public locations, including a Dunkin’ Donuts on Newbridge Road in Hicksville. He had claimed he had an office in Syosset, which was not the case, prosecutors said.
After the home was sold, Giannakos was supposed to hand over the $40,000 but didn’t. The home sellers made several requests by phone and text before complaining to authorities, prosecutors said.
An escrow account review showed Giannakos spent the $40,000 at Home Depot, department stores, and for credit card payments, mortgage payments and unrelated business expenses, prosecutors said.
“Anyone interested in hiring an attorney is encouraged to check that person’s standing and registration with the Office of Court Administration,” Singas said in the news release
Giannakos was disbarred in August 2012, the release said.
Supreme Court of New York documents show that Giannakos pleaded guilty on Aug. 21, 2012, to wire and bank fraud, as well as to conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. He was sentenced on March 15, 2016, to three years probation on each count, to run concurrently, and fined $400.
He “was automatically disbarred … upon his conviction in United States District Court of the federal felonies,” the documents said.