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Long IslandCrime

Syosset lawyer admits stealing $500G from dead man, DA says

A lawyer from Syosset has pleaded guilty to stealing almost a half-million dollars from the estate of a dead man, Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Wednesday.

Debra Ann Purcell-Regis, 56, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree grand larceny Tuesday before Queens Supreme Court Justice Dorothy Chin-Brandt.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 26. Authorities said Chin-Brandt has “indicated” she will sentence Purcell-Regis to 90 days in jail.

Brown said Purcell-Regis was suspended from practicing law Feb. 4, 2015.

According to the criminal complaint, Purcell-Regis was retained in 2008 by Thomas Massaro to oversee the disbursement of the estate of his half-brother, Joseph Filiano of Queens.

A forensic analysis showed that Purcell-Regis removed “more than $500,000 from the deceased man’s bank account and redeposited the funds” into Washington Mutual and Chase bank accounts — both of which were in her own name. During a span of five years, Brown said Purcell-Regis made “numerous cash withdrawals and endorsed payments” unrelated to the estate.

The total of those amounts was $495,000, Brown said.

The money was used for personal expenses, Brown said, including for tuition payments to a private Quaker school on Long Island. Officials did not identify the school.

Authorities said Purcell-Regis has made full restitution to the estate, including interest on the stolen funds.

“The defendant has pleaded guilty to having breached her fiduciary duties and violated the trust of the victim — the very person who retained her to help handle the estate of his deceased loved one,” Brown said in a statement Wednesday. “But, instead of working on behalf of her client, the defendant stole from the estate to enrich herself.”


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