An Oceanside lawyer was arrested Thursday and charged with stealing $10,000 from a couple he was representing in the purchase of a new home, prosecutors said.
Nathan Levner, 54, pleaded not guilty to third-degree grand larceny and was released without bail, prosecutors said. He faces 2 to 7 years in prison if convicted and is due back in court June 3.
"Attorneys in real estate transactions are trusted with our finances and have access to our personal information, so it is especially disturbing when a legal professional is revealed to be nothing more than a con man," said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.
Rice said that in July 2011 a couple hired Levner to represent them in the sale of their previous residence and the purchase of a new home. At the closing of the home they were selling July 15, 2011, the home's purchasers deposited $10,000 into Levner's account. This money was supposed to be held in escrow until the victims moved out of their former home. Once this was done, the $10,000 was supposed to be released to the victims, prosecutors said.
After the closing on the sale and before the closing of the purchase of their new home, however, Levner failed to return any of the victims' phone calls, prosecutors said. The victims vacated their former home on Aug. 1, 2011, and were forced to hire a new attorney at the closing of the new home they were purchasing, prosecutors said.
On Sept. 9, 2011, the new attorney sent Levner a letter requesting the money be returned, but Levner never responded or returned the money, prosecutors said. Levner was suspended from practicing law on June 1, 2012, after admitting that he had used the money to make a personal investment, prosecutors said. On Dec. 12, 2012, Levner was disbarred.