By Madina Toure
A Flushing man, who was disbarred from the practice of law, has been charged with stealing more than $34,000 in estate funds that were meant to go toward a convent, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown announced last week.
The man, John Giordanella, 48, allegedly looted about $34,247 in legal fees and other expenses from a couple who hired him to handle their friend’s estate in 2012, the DA said.
Giordanella, who practiced law from 1990 until he lost his license in March 2007, was charged with larceny and a violation of judiciary law, according to the DA.
“Despite being disbarred five years earlier, the defendant allegedly continued to practice law and represent himself as a licensed attorney and thereby break the law,” Brown said. “His alleged false representation of himself and the theft of client funds is not only reprehensible but also a profound betrayal of trust that warrants vigorous prosecution.”
Between Feb. 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2012, Peter Leonard and his late wife, Kathleen Leonard, hired Giordanella to handle the estate of their friend, Anne G. Wadsley, according to the criminal complaint filed by Brown.
Wadsley left her estate, which is valued at roughly $130,000, to Kathleen, the complaint said. Following expenses, the money was to be given to a convent. Peter is the executor of his wife’s estate.
When the couple hired Giordanella, they believed that he was a licensed attorney and were never told by Giordanella that he had been disbarred, the complaint continued.
The couple allegedly gave him six checks, coming out to $34,247, which covered costs such as securing bonds, estate taxes, expenses and a probate “fast track” fee, according to the complaint. Giordanella also allegedly demanded an additional $20,000 to secure a bond and $6,247 to pay estate taxes.
Giordanella’s next court date is May 6, Brown said. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour