In an alleged elder abuse case perpetrated by a member of the same generation, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., claims that 76 year old Philip Leopold bilked his contemporary, an 85 year old woman, to the tune of $1.6 million. The Justice League contends that Leopold took advantage of his nearly blind and deaf contemporary as early as 2002.
DA Vance believes that between 2002 and 2010, Leopold created a trust for his victim that he and the Bank of New York were named as co-trustees. Shorty after its creation, the trust grew to more than $2 million. Around the same time, it is believed that Leopold opened a checking account at the bank where he previously opened the trust. Not completely devious in nature, prosecutors contend that Leopold used part of the money to pay the complainant’s household expenses as he took control of some of her finances and prepared checks for her signature.
During this period, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office alleges that Leopold stole more than $1.6 million by writing unauthorized checks to himself from multiple bank accounts. Further, prosecutors assert that he also sent forged letters with forged signatures of his victim to one of the banks requesting a transfer of tens of thousands of dollars from the trust account to the checking accounts. Following the “paper trail,” funds that originated from the trust account went to the checking account of the victim (that was in control of Leopold) and then to Leopold’s personal bank account.
Leopold is believed that have spent more than $63,000 to rent storage units, $882,000 to pay for personal credit card charges and more than $500,000 at ShopNBC. Even more intriguing, it is alleged that Leopold used $300,000 to finance health and insurance polices for his daughter and himself.
As a general rule, partners cannot steal from partners (People v. Zinke, 76 N.Y.2d 8 (1990). However, this case does not involve theft by a co-owner of a property from another. Instead, it involves the alleged theft of a trustee of property from the beneficiary he is legally obligated to financially assist. As such, is there a reason why insurance policies were paid for Leopold and his daughter with these monies? Could it be that she was generous or did not have any heirs? Alternatively, was the old woman the beneficiary of those policies? Further, were the items purchased by Leopold on ShopNBC given to the victim or purchased at her behest? Even assuming they were not, what authority did this woman give to Leopold to make purchases or even sign her name? Was it commonplace for him to do the latter? What was the alleged complainant’s net worth? While a theft is a theft regardless of how much, is it possible that $1.6 million is merely a fraction of that worth and an amount that was “gifted” for years of friendship and assistance? There are certainly many questions that must be asked in this case that cannot be addressed by a press release. Although the circumstances objectively seem fairly “bad,” things are not always as devious as prosecutors believe. I am certain, however, time will tell us whether the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s theory rings true in a case of apparent fraud.
As it stands now, Leopold is in “hot water” as he is looking at numerous felonies including Grand Larceny in the First Degree (New York Penal Law 155.42). As a result, he faces mandatory state prison even as a 76 year old first time offender (just ask Anthony Marshall, Ms. Astor’s son who is out of custody during the pendency of his appeal for an even greater theft). Additionally, Leopold faces numerous other felonies including Forgery in the Second Degree, Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, Attempted Grand Larceny in the Third Degree and Attempted Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree. These crimes are D and E felonies as well as A misdemeanors.
To learn more about each of crimes listed above, search Saland Law PC’s websites. Both the NewYorkTheftAndLarecnyLawyers.Com and New-York-Lawyers.org websites have a wealth of information on the specific crimes that are presented clearly and in depth. Links to some of these crimes are found above while the remainder are found on the websites below.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm. Founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors, the New York criminal defense attorneys at Saland Law PC represent those investigated, arrested and indicted for White Collar and theft crimes throughout the New York City area.