A disbarred Flushing lawyer was charged with grand larceny this week after stealing over $66,000 from a former client, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz announced on Monday.
In addition to the grand larceny charge, Yohan Choi, 44, was charged with forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument and practicing law after being disbarred, for allegedly stealing funds issued by an insurance company meant for Choi’s client. If convicted, Choi, 44, faces up to 4 years in prison.
According to Katz, Choi was hired to represent a man who had been injured in a car crash in March 2016. In November 2017, an insurance company representing the other driver involved in the crash, agreed to settle the case for $93,000. Choi, who had been disbarred for unrelated reasons, decided to keep the cash for himself, the DA said.
Rather than handing the check over to his client, Choi allegedly forged his client’s signature, deposited the check in his law firm’s account and told the client that they should fight for a higher settlement, according to Katz.
Over two years later, Choi told his client that the insurance company had finally settled and gave his client a $100,000 check. When the client went to cash it, he found that a stop payment order had been put on the check, according to the DA.
The client confronted Choi about the check and the ex-lawyer told him that the stop payment had been implemented by the insurance agency, according to the charges. Choi then wrote the client another $100,000 check, which also couldn’t be cashed.
In March 2020, Choi finally gave his client a legitimate check for $100,000, Katz said.
“The victim in this case had been injured in a car crash and turned to an attorney to help seek justice in a civil lawsuit. The defendant was entrusted to uphold the law. Instead he allegedly lied, manipulated and then enriched himself with funds intended for his client,” Katz said.