DA Vance: Former Attorney Sentenced to 3-to-9 Years in Prison for Stealing $500,000 From 13 Clients

September 9, 2016

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of JEFFREY LESSOFF, 59, a former personal injury attorney, to 3-to-9 years in state prison for stealing approximately $500,000 in civil damages awarded to 13 of his clients. On July 28, 2016, the defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to multiple counts of Grand Larceny in the Second and Third Degrees. As part of the sentence, the court executed judgment orders holding LESSOFF liable to repay approximately $700,000 to his clients – representing the damages and forfeiting fees for any services rendered.

“Jeffrey Lessoff stole half a million dollars from his clients to finance a life on the lam in Spain,” said District Attorney Vance. “One client, a former schoolteacher, waited in vain for three years to receive money owed to her following a career-ending injury. I urge anyone who believes that he or she may have been a victim of theft or fraud by an attorney to call my Office’s Financial Frauds Bureau at 212-335-8900.”

As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea, LESSOFF owned the Law Firm of Jeffrey Lessoff, a solo practitioner law practice with offices originally located at 350 Broadway, and later at 125 Maiden Lane, in Lower Manhattan. Among other matters, LESSOFF litigated personal injury, civil rights, and employment law cases, which often resulted in civil damages owed to his clients. LESSOFF was responsible for receiving these funds on behalf of his clients, removing case-related expenses and his fee, and providing his clients with the remainder owed to them.

Between September 2012 and November 2015, LESSOFF stole approximately $500,000 from 13 clients by depositing the funds owed to them into his escrow account and using the money for his own personal benefit. When questioned by his clients, LESSOFF claimed to never have received the funds. None of the 13 victims ever received any portion of the money owed to them.  

In the fall of 2015, the defendant sold his law practice and fled to Spain with what remained of the stolen funds. In December 2015, LESSOFF briefly returned to the United States and was arrested at Miami International Airport and extradited to New York. 

Assistant District Attorney Catherine McCaw handled the prosecution of this case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gloria Garcia, Deputy Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; Assistant District Attorney Archana Rao, Chief of the Financial Frauds Bureau; and Executive Assistant District Attorney Michael Sachs, Chief of the Investigation Division. Trial Preparation Assistant John Behnken and Principal Financial Investigator Robert Pomeroy of the Forensic Accounting and Financial Investigations (“FAFI”) Bureau provided assistance, under the supervision of Irene Serrapica, Deputy Bureau Chief of FAFI, and Robert Demarest, Bureau Chief of FAFI.

District Attorney Vance also thanked Principal Attorney Norma Melendez of the First Judicial Department’s Departmental Disciplinary Committee. 

Defendant Information:

New York, NY

•    Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, two counts
•    Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, eleven counts

•    3-to-9 years in state prison
•    $700,000 in civil judgement orders