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Former Westbury man convicted again of posing as lawyer, stealing millions

A former Astoria businessman has been convicted of posing as an attorney and a registered investment adviser and bilking seven people out of $5 million, Queens prosecutors said Friday.

Mohammed Rafikian, 54, whose last known address was in Westbury, was convicted Thursday by a Queens jury of one count of first-degree grand larceny and seven counts of second-degree grand larceny and six counts of second-degree criminal impersonation.

The jury also convicted Rafikian, also known as Mo Kian, of three counts of first-degree scheme to defraud and three counts of practicing law without a license after the two-month trial.

Rafikian's attorney, Steven Goldenberg of Queens, said he plans to appeal.

Evidence at trial showed that Rafikian "engaged in very risky day trading of stocks and ran up negative balances of $5 million," Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a release.

Rafikian tried to cover his losses and "took over the law practice of an attorney who had suddenly become ill and misrepresented himself as an attorney," Brown said.

Posing an the attorney, Rafikian defrauded the seven clients -- including a cardiologist and New York York City Housing Authority inspector -- of amounts ranging from $63,000 to $3.2 million in real estate and capital investment transactions between March 2000 and December 2005, prosecutors said.

"My client was shocked by the verdict," Goldenberg said. "He still denies the charges."

Rafikian was chairman and chief executive of First Investors Capital Corp. in Astoria. He also worked periodically as a paralegal for the law firm of Marcus & Associates, which maintained an office as a subtenant in Rafikian's Astoria office.

Rafikian also stole the identity of the firm's named partner, prosecutors said.

Rafikian was originally convicted in August 2007 on similar charges and sentenced to up to 50 years in prison.

He then represented himself at trial and appealed his conviction on the basis that he proceeded without counsel.

In September 2012, the New York State Appellate Division, Second Department, determined his waiver of counsel was not knowing and voluntary, and ordered a new trial

Rafikian, who has been in jail in lieu of bail since his arrest in May 2004, faces up to 50 years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for Oct. 16.

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