Basic legal ethics for attorneys dictate that they serve their clients’ interests and funds with good judgement. It is an ethical violation to mix a client’s money from a settlement with the attorney’s funds, even if it is accidental or innocent of any malicious intent. However, to intentionally steal money from clients or commit identity theft in the process of enriching oneself at the expense of clients is not only unethical, but also illegal. Example is the case for New York lawyer, Stuart Finkelstein who first stole his customers identities before stealing their settlement funds.
The scheme Finkelstein engaged in from October 2013 to May of 2022 seemed to be a scene from any good (or bad) crime movie. Finkelstein stole the identities of two individuals who did have disabilities, and targeted local businesses with fraudulent claims that the individuals were unable to access public establishments because they did not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Yet, the individuals had never tried to go into the establishments and Finkelstein did not represent them as an attorney.
The businesses, usually mom-and-pop shops, were warned (in the voice of the Godfather?) that if they don’t cough up thousands of dollars to settle, Finkelstein would go after them even harder in court. And that is what he did. Finkelstein filed over 300 lawsuits in the courts of the Southern District of New York and the Southern District of Florida against the businesses with false claims and pocket the settlements that had been awarded to the fraudulent claims, collecting in total about $930,000.
On July 18, 2022 Stuart Finkelstein, pled guilty in Manhattan federal court last week for filing suits on behalf of two clients who had no clue he was claiming to represent them. Charges in Florida have yet to be filed as Finkelstein was not a licensed lawyer in Florida.
Great job on outstanding investigative work of Special Agents from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Todays “Fraud of the Day” is based on an article posted in the New York Post on July 18, 2022
Fraudster attorney pleads guilty to filing hundreds of bogus disability suits
Lawyer Stuart Finkelstein has pleaded guilty to filing more than 300 fraudulent lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act in New York and Florida.Getty Images
A notorious ambulance-chasing lawyer whom The Post first exposed as a scammer in 2019 has pleaded guilty to a federal crime for filing more than 300 bunk lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act in New York and Florida.