RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – A Ridgefield attorney was arrested Friday in New York on charges of stealing from his own clients’ escrow accounts and using the money to fund his family’s extravagant lifestyle.
Timothy Griffin, who has a practice in Bronxville, N.Y., stole more than $1 million from clients between April 2009 and February 2014, according to the criminal complaint filed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
As a real-estate attorney, Griffin’s clients would give him money to be held in escrow for pending transactions. Instead of keeping the money in escrow, as required by law, Griffin transferred it to his personal bank account and then used that money to make payments on:a membership at Westchester’s Waccabuc Country Club, a BMW, a Lexus, expensive jewelry and other personal expenses, Schneiderman said.
The charges came to light after an investigation into the theft of nearly $2 million from the not-for-profit United Hebrew Cemetery in Staten Island. In late 2012, Griffin was asked to serve as acting president of the cemetery after the previous president and his wife were found guilty of embezzling $850,000.
In his capacity as acting president, Griffin allegedly made six unauthorized wire transfers from the cemetery’s account to his own attorney escrow account totaling $1.9 million. Griffin was indicted earlier this year on a charge of felony grand larceny in that case.
Investigators with the Attorney General’s Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau believe that Griffin stole from the cemetery in order to reimburse the escrow account from which he had been stealing his clients’ money for years.
Griffin was charged with seven counts of felony grand larceny. He was arraigned Friday in New Rochelle. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.
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