A federal judge Wednesday set Feb. 18 for the trial of a Smithtown attorney accused of stealing a $2 million settlement intended for a young girl whose father died in the Suffolk County jail when she was an infant.
U.S. District Judge Joan Azrack in Central Islip acted at a brief status conference in the case of the attorney, Vincent Trimarco Jr.
Trimarco was charged in 2017 with conspiracies to commit mail and wire fraud, as well as money laundering, according to an indictment. The girl’s grandfather, who was involved in the scheme, officials said, was only charged as a co-conspirator because he died before the completion of the investigation. The money came from the settlement of the suit against the county.
Trimarco, who also has played a minor role in Republican politics, used the money to invest in a Patchogue nightclub, $600,000 worth of properties in Ronkonkoma, Nesconset and Hauppauge, as well as to purchase a Jaguar convertible and a Ferrari, officials said. He has pleaded not guilty and has been released on $500,000 bond. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
In 2007, Trimarco ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination for the Suffolk County Legislature despite having the party’s backing.
After Wednesday’s brief hearing, Trimarco’s attorney, Matin Emouna of Garden City, said: “Mr. Trimarco is a well-respected member of the bar and the community. The evidence at trial will certainly prove his innocence.”
Eastern District federal prosecutor Catherine Mirabile declined to comment.
The federal indictment did not identify the person who died in the jail, the girl, or the grandfather, but other court papers, newspaper articles, and John Ray, the attorney for the girl, have.
These sources have said that in 2011 the county settled the lawsuit for $3 million after the girl’s father, Scott Eriksen, died in the jail in 2005 after being arrested for a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana.
The Eriksen family said he had been savagely beaten; jail officials said he became violent when placed in a cell and had only received a minor cut on his head.
The girl’s grandfather received $2 million as the heir, after $1 million in legal fees were deducted, some of which went to Trimarco.
But in 2012 Ray said his client, the young girl, was the actual heir, being Eriksen’s daughter from a relationship between Eriksen and a then-teenage neighbor.
The Suffolk Surrogate Court agreed that the girl was the heir and entitled to the money.
But instead of returning the properties, officials alleged, Trimarco worked out a complicated scheme in which he allegedly sold the properties to shell companies he controlled and then had the proceeds transferred to accounts he also controlled.
Ray has said that he went to the FBI with his account of what had happened when he could not collect for the girl from Trimarco.