Disbarred lawyer sentenced in multimillion real estate scams
A disbarred lawyer failed Thursday to put off his trip to prison after stealing nearly $4.4 million through real estate scams, with his ringing cellphone irking a judge who'd already told him that justice delayed was justice denied.
Nassau County Judge Philip Grella sentenced Old Westbury resident James Kalpakis, 53, to prison for 3 1/3 to 10 years after his previous guilty pleas on two grand larceny counts.
The judge Thursday denied a request from Kalpakis' attorney to put off the sentencing, saying he'd already delayed the case. Grella also ordered Kalpakis to pay back what he stole.
Assistant District Attorney Peter Mancuso said Kalpakis' wife, a longtime friend and business associates were among the victims. The crimes occurred between September 2008 and January 2011.
"I know Mr. Kalpakis is sorry," defense attorney James Toner told Grella, saying his client already had apologized to his children and other family members.
Kalpakis said he had "extreme remorse and regret," and promised to focus on rehabilitating himself and making things right for the victims while in prison.
Kalpakis tried again to get the judge to delay his sentence, saying snowy weather had kept movers from transporting his belongings and he was trying to complete his divorce.
But Kalpakis' ringing cellphone interrupted his appeal.
The judge ordered him to put it down, telling court officers to seize the device before going ahead with the sentencing. Afterward, Kalpakis, who had been out on bail, was immediately taken into custody.
Among his crimes, authorities say Kalpakis took about $400,000 from his wife by refinancing a home she owned after forging a power of attorney in her name.
They have alleged he stole $1.3 million from someone who bought two homes with forged deeds from banks that didn't own the properties. Authorities also have said Kalpakis stole $500,000 from a victim by saying the money would go toward oil, gas and mineral lease investments in Texas.
He resigned his law license in 2009 after more than a dozen allegations of professional misconduct.
Attorney Mario Biaggi Jr., who represents one of the victims and attended the sentencing, said Kalpakis has made no effort at restitution. " 'Remorse' is nonsense," Biaggi said.