A Flushing man found himself on the wrong side of the law after the disbarred attorney stole $34,000 in legal expenses while handling an estate intended for a convent, prosecutors said.
John Giordanella, 48, was arraigned last week in Queens Criminal Court, where he was charged with third-degree grand larceny and a violation of the judiciary law (practice of law by an attorney who has been disbarred, suspended or convicted of a felony), according to the Queens district attorney’s office.
Giordanella practiced law from 1990 until his disbarment on March 13, 2007, prosecutors said. But he allegedly not only continued to represent himself as a licensed attorney, but is also accused of stealing when he was hired by a Kew Gardens Hills couple to handle the estate of their deceased friend.
The couple did not know Giordanella was disbarred, and entrusted him to handle the estate, valued at $130,000. According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, any money left over after expenses were to be given to a convent.
Giordanella was given six checks, totaling $34,247, for expenses, such as securing bonds, a probate “fast track” fee and estate taxes, between February 1, 2012, and December 31, 2012. Giordanella also asked for an additional $20,000 to secure a bond and $6,247 to pay estate taxes. The six checks were allegedly deposited into the accounts of Giordanella and his wife.
According to the district attorney’s office, the will did not require the filing of a New York State estate tax return since the value of the estate did not exceed $1 million. Also, there were no fees required and no bonds requested, and the only activity for the will was its filing in April 2014.
Giordanella faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. He was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on May 6.
Anyone who may have been a victim or knows someone who may have been a victim of Giordanella should contact the Queens District Attorney’s Office at 718-286-5957.