Public Notices and Press Releases

Misappropriated Estate Funds Lead Claims Against NJ Lawyers in Early 2024

Over $280,000 paid out from the New Jersey Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection due to mismanagement of estate proceeds.

In the first three months of 2024, the New Jersey Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection addressed a significant amount of misappropriation by attorneys, with more than $280,000 of the nearly $400,000 disbursed in 25 claims involving estate proceeds. 

The Fund, established to protect clients from attorney malfeasance, reimbursed $395,751.83 to victims, including a notable payment of $234,827.81 to the Estate of Dorothy Bellinger. Investigations revealed attorney Neil Brunson improperly handled multiple insurance settlements, which were meant for clearing a mortgage and distributing bequests.

Another substantial sum, $49,938.42, was recovered for the Estate of Margaret Bartosiewicz after attorney Peter Jonathan Cresci failed to deposit proceeds from liquidated stocks into the estate's account. The Fund plans to pursue legal action against these attorneys and any other parties involved to reclaim the money paid out in these claims.

This malpractice represents only a small fraction of New Jersey attorneys, with just 0.5% facing approved claims from the Fund, which is financed by annual contributions from the state's lawyers and operates without taxpayer money.

Other compensations this quarter stemmed from various misconducts, including theft of real estate deposit funds and failure to deliver services in paid legal matters. Since its inception in 1961 and expansion in 1969, the Fund has paid nearly $100 million across almost 5,000 claims, emphasizing its vital role in upholding legal integrity in New Jersey.

For more details on filing claims or the Fund's procedures, resources are available at the official website or by contacting the New Jersey Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection directly.

For a detailed list of the first quarter's claims and the current status of each respondent attorney, please refer to the official document provided by the New Jersey Courts here.

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