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Photo via Shutterstock, inset courtesy of Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez's office
Photo via Shutterstock, inset courtesy of Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez's office

A Howard Beach attorney who stole nearly $600,000 from a deceased client will spend the next 1 to 3 years in prison, prosecutors announced on April 20.

Frank Racano, 54, pleaded guilty in January to second-degree grand larceny. According to Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s office, from February 2013 to May 2015 Racano stole approximately $587,160.56 from the estate of New York City Civil Court Judge John L. Phillips, Jr., who died on Feb. 16, 2008 unmarried, childless and without a will.

Following the death of Judge Phillips, on Jan. 16, 2009, Samuel Boykin, Phillips’s nephew by marriage, was appointed as the administrator to Phillips’s estate. Boykin hired Racano in 2010 to help sell the estate’s real estate holdings, the Slave Theater, located at 1215-1217 Fulton St. in Bedford-Stuyvesant and 10 Halsey St.

The properties went into contract in 2012 for $2.2 million with a down payment of $220,000. That check was made payable to “Frank Racano, as attorney,” and Racano deposited the money into his checking account.

On Dec. 19, 2012, the sales of the properties were approved and the closing took place on Feb. 25, 2013. At the closing table, the buyer’s attorney paid closing expenses and taxes that were owed on the property. The net proceeds of the sale, $517,339.65, were paid to the estate in two checks payable to “Frank Racano, as attorney.”

Racano deposited both checks into his trust. Between February 2013 and May 2015, Racano paid a total of $150,179.09 in estate expenditures for tax assistance and other services. During that same period, Racano wrote and cashed over 300 checks to himself , without authorization from the estate or the Court, with amounts ranging from $45 to $7,500. He completely emptied the account, stealing a total of $587,160.56.

“This defendant disregarded his duty to his client, stealing nearly all of the proceeds due to the estate of the beloved Hon. Judge Phillips, including from the sale of the historic Slave Theater,” Gonzalez said. “He’s now been held accountable for his brazen theft and shameful conduct.”

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