WESTPORT, Conn. -- A personal injury lawyer from Westport is facing multiple charges after being accused of stealing more than $600,000 from his clients.
Stephen R. Krawitz, 62, was charged Monday with with two counts of first-degree scheme to defraud, four counts of second-degree grand larceny and 15 counts of third-degree grand larceny after he stole more than $600,000 from settlements obtained for the benefit of more than a dozen of his firm's clients, according to a release from the Manhattan district attorney's office.
Krawitz owned and operated Stephen R. Krawitz, a personal injury law practice at 271 Madison Ave. in Manhattan.
From Nov. 3, 2008, to March 12, 2014, Krawitz received and deposited settlement checks on behalf of 18 clients totaling about $935,000, the release said. Krawitz is accused of withholding all settlement money from 16 of those clients, and the two remaining clients received far less money than they were owed, the release said.
Krawitz also stole from multiple victims who were seriously injured, including a 96-year-old great-grandmother who broke her shoulder and a 20-year-old Russian foreign exchange student who was hospitalized for months, according to District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr.
In November 2012 and again in March 2014, Krawitz’s Interest on Lawyer Accounts, or “IOLA,” were severely depleted, while large outstanding amounts were stilled owed to his clients. As a result, Krawitz is charged with stealing about $627,000 from those 18 clients.
Krawitz lied to multiple clients about the receipt of settlement funds and underreported the size of the settlement agreements, the report said.
One of Krawitz's clients, Robert Rough, died of cancer without ever receiving the full settlement money.
For example, on Nov. 3, 2008, Krawitz is accused of depositing a check for $100,000 for the benefit of Rough into his IOLA, the release said. In 2008, Rough was involved in a car accident and suffered nerve damage, which led to a loss of mobility in his hands, the release said. As a result of these injuries, Rough was unable to keep his business.
For more than three years, Krawitz never informed his client that a settlement was reached, despite multiple inquiries from the client and his family, the release said. In October 2012, Krawitz acknowledged that a settlement was achieved but underreported the size of it by $35,000, the release said.
In addition to the 18 clients, Krawitz is charged with withholding settlement funds and underpaying several other clients as part of the scheme, the release said.
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