A disbarred lawyer who lives in Bayside has been charged with grand larceny and other crimes for allegedly bilking more than 40 clients out of nearly $620,000, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office.
According to District Attorney Melinda Katz, Yohan Choi, 47, of 23rd Avenue in Bayside, allegedly represented the victims in personal injury claims and allegedly failed to give his clients their share of the settlements
Choi was arraigned Wednesday, Dec. 22 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Scott Dunn on a 44-count complaint. He is charged with grand larceny in the second degree, 41 counts of grand larceny in the third degree and the practice of law by attorney who has been disbarred, suspended or convicted of a felony.
According to charges, Choi held bank accounts for his law practice at Chase, Capitol One and HSBC dating back to at least August 2015. A forensic examination of the accounts showed dozens of deposits for lawsuit settlements on behalf of Choi’s clients.
According to the complaint, in November 2016, a woman Choi represented in a personal injury case agreed to a settlement for $52,500. The victim was entitled to just over $35,000. Even though a check from the insurance company paying the settlement was allegedly deposited into the defendant’s account, the woman never received any money, Katz said.
Another woman Choi represented in a personal injury case agreed to settle for $75,000 in May 2018, according to the complaint. After the lawyer’s fee and other expenses were deducted, the victim was entitled to $50,250. Choi allegedly never turned over that money, despite the insurance company depositing a check for $75,000 into his account.
Additionally, according to Katz, a man who also hired the defendant to represent him in a personal injury matter agreed to settle his case for $45,000 and was entitled to receive $30,150. The investigation showed that Choi’s bank account on May 12, 2020, allegedly received a check for $45,000 from an insurance company. However, three days later that same escrow account’s balance totaled just $423. The victim never received the money he was due, according to Katz.
According to the charges, the defendant repeated this scheme at least 41 times over the course of five years, leaving clients empty handed. In all these instances, Choi’s business accounts received the settlement checks that totaled more than $600,000, but his victims were never issued a check for their injuries, according to Katz.
Choi’s license to practice law was suspended on November 20, 2017.
“Despite being disbarred, this defendant allegedly continued to represent clients and successfully reached settlements on dozens of personal injury cases,” Katz said. “But, instead of taking his fair share of the proceeds, this former attorney is accused of pocketing all of the settlement money — victimizing his clients a second time.”
Judge Dunn set the defendant’s return date for Dec. 30, 2021. If convicted Choi faces up to 15 years in prison.