A disbarred Fresh Meadows lawyer was charged with three counts of grand larceny after allegedly stealing more than $150,000 from former clients over the course of four years, District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Tuesday.
Michael Kohn, 70, was arraigned on Monday, July 20, and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges.
According to Katz, Kohn stole funds collected on behalf of his clients and deposited them in multiple bank accounts under his own name beginning in June 2013 and through June 2017.
“The defendant in this case is accused of breaching the trust of his clients and unjustly enriching himself. The victims trusted the defendant to act on their behalf, when they hired him to handle various legal matters,” the district attorney said. “Instead the defendant allegedly pocketed tens of thousands of dollars that should have been distributed to his clients. The defendant now faces serious charges and will be held accountable for these alleged criminal acts.”
Kohn, who lives in Long Island, began the alleged thefts when representing an administrator for a dead relative’s estate who had hired Kohn to handle the sale of the relative’s Douglaston property, according to the charges. In June 2013, the property sold for around $650,000. All the funds were deposited into a bank account controlled by the lawyer, according to Katz.
The client only received $100,000 from the sale, the charges said.
In July 2015, Kohn was hired by a client to handle a personal injury case, the charges state. The case was settled in court for $90,000, however when the client asked Kohn for the money, the lawyer told the client that the money was tied up in an outstanding medical bill for $4,300, Katz said.
Although the money was deposited in an account controlled by the lawyer, the client never received any of it, Katz said.
On Aug. 30, 2016, Kohn was representing a client in the sale of a property in Woodside. The property sold for $868,000, about half of which was to go to the client, the charges said.
By June 30, 2017, the client hadn’t received more than $100,000 from the sale. The remaining funds were found in a bank account controlled by Kohn, Katz said.
The investigation into Kohn’s dealings involved interviews with former clients and a review of bank records, according to Katz.
Kohn voluntarily resigned from the bar in January 2019 for disciplinary reasons, the district attorney said.
Following his arraignment before Queens Criminal Court Judge Joanne Watters, Kohn was released and ordered to return to court on Oct. 27.