DA Vance: Bankruptcy Attorney Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $1.8M

May 3, 2018

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. today announced the guilty plea of PINCUS DAVID CARLEBACH, 58, an attorney, for stealing approximately $1.8 million from multiple victims, including bidders in bankruptcy auctions in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree and is expected to be sentenced on August 2, 2018.

“Attorneys are professionally obligated to conduct themselves with honesty and integrity,” said District Attorney Vance. “In this case, the defendant treated the escrow account associated with his bankruptcy cases as a personal gold mine, embezzling a total of $1.8 million and withdrawing money that was used for personal purchases, or as part of a Ponzi scheme that saw its victims temporarily mollified with stolen funds.”

As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea and according to documents filed in court, between March 2015 and July 2017, CARLEBACH, an attorney specializing in bankruptcy matters, engaged in a scheme to steal approximately $1.8 million in escrow funds deposited into his Interest on Lawyer Account (“IOLA”) by bidders in bankruptcy auctions in both Manhattan and Brooklyn. In violation of his fiduciary obligations and without the permission or authority of the escrow depositors, the defendant withdrew funds from the account and used them to pay for personal expenses. In some instances, CARLEBACH also used the stolen funds to repay parties who requested reimbursements or other payments to which they were entitled.

In total, the defendant stole more than $1.8 million from at least five escrow depositors who entrusted the defendant with funds associated with cases filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York.

Assistant D.A. Spencer Willig handled the prosecution of the case under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Anne Ternes, Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau, Assistant D.A. Archana Rao, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau, and Executive Assistant D.A. Michael Sachs, Chief of the Investigation Division. Trial Preparation Assistant Stephen Gobes, Financial Investigator Michelle Burgos, of Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations, and Senior Rackets Investigators Michael O’Brien and Anthony DiCaprio provided additional assistance with the case.

District Attorney Vance also thanked Trial Attorneys Serene Nakano and Andy Velez-Rivera, both of the Office of the U.S. Trustee in Manhattan, and Deputy Chief Counsel Naomi Goldstein, of the Departmental Disciplinary Committee for the First Department, for their assistance with the case and investigation.

Defendant Information:

New York, NY


  • Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
  • Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count