Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, Jr. today announced the prison sentence of MITCHELL KOSSOFF, 68, a former licensed New York attorney, for stealing more than $14.6 million in funds – belonging to at least 35 individuals and companies – from his attorney escrow accounts. KOSSOFF pleaded guilty in December, 2021 to all of the charges contained in a Superior Court Information filed in New York State Supreme Court, including Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree and Grand Larceny in the First, Second, and Third Degrees. He was sentenced to 4-½-to-13-½ years in prison. In addition to the prison sentence, the court executed judgment orders in favor of victims and the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection of the State of New York, which hold KOSSOFF liable to repay more than $14.6 million. KOSSOFF also surrendered a condominium in Highlands, New Jersey, and was disbarred in March.
“When clients hire counsel to represent them, they expect their attorney will follow the highest ethical standards. Yet Mitchell Kossoff violated the fundamental trust of his clients by taking millions for himself. His actions betray the standards that we as lawyers are taught from the very beginning of our careers and will not be tolerated” said District Attorney Bragg.
As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea and according to documents filed in court, KOSSOFF owned and operated a Manhattan-based real estate law firm, Kossoff PLLC, which he formed in 2013. As part of the law firm’s business, KOSSOFF regularly collected and held funds in attorney escrow accounts for clients and other individuals involved in transactions with his clients. From December 21, 2017 to April 9, 2021, KOSSOFF made unauthorized transfers from these accounts to other accounts to which he had access. The transfers totaled more than $14.6 million and belonged to at least 35 individuals or companies.
On multiple occasions, KOSSOFF used the stolen money to pay back clients he had previously stolen from. In other instances, he transferred the stolen funds directly into accounts associated with a struggling family business, Burton Packaging Company, Inc. He also used the money to pay for personal expenses – including personal credit card bills which averaged $16,000 per month, and $19,000 in monthly rent for a luxury apartment in Manhattan – and to pay other business and personal debts.
In 2021, in an effort to conceal the thefts, KOSSOFF asked several clients to deposit money into his escrow accounts under false pretenses, and then used those funds to pay back other clients. In March 2021, multiple clients realized that KOSSOFF had failed to transfer funds according to their escrow agreements with him, and contacted KOSSOFF and other employees of his firm. When these clients were not able to reach KOSSOFF, they contacted law enforcement authorities.
Assistant D.A.s Ryan Gee (Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau) and Catherine McCaw (Senior Investigative Counsel) handled the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant D.A.s Hope Korenstein (Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau), Kofi Sansculotte (Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau), and Gloria Garcia (Deputy Chief of the Investigation Division), as well as Chris Conroy (Executive Assistant DA, Senior Advisor to the Investigation Division), and Executive Assistant D.A. Susan Hoffinger (Chief of the Investigation Division). The following members of the D.A.’s Office also assisted with the case: Investigative Analyst Gensiana Cicero; FAFI Investigators Lisa Gillen and Billy Martin; Investigators Brian Conway, Frank Toro, and Ethan Zubkoff; Steve Moran and Ryan Lawrence of the High-Tech Analysis Unit; and Assistant DAs Shannon Goldberg (Chief of the Privilege Review Unit) and Caroline Serino (Deputy Chief of the Privilege Review Unit).
New York, New York
- Grand Larceny in the First Degree, a class B felony, one count
- Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, one count
- Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, one count
- Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, one count
- 4-½-to-13-½ years in prison