Daniel Wise of the New York Law Journal reports in Disbarred Lawyer Sentenced After Admitting to Stealing From Grandparents on yet another case involving the theft of estate funds by the person who was supposed to be the estate’s primary protector. Here’s the linked-to report in its entirety:
A disbarred Westchester County, N.Y., lawyer has admitted in court that he stole $310,000 from his grandparents.
Chase Caro of White Plains pleaded guilty Monday to grand larceny and has been sentenced to 2 1/2 to 7 1/2 years in prison by County Court Judge Susan Cacace.
A spokesman for Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore said Caro, 49, admitted stealing money meant for his grandparents’ trust fund. He already had pleaded guilty to another theft of more than $470,000 from another elderly client. He was sentenced to 2 to 6 years on that count.
Caro agreed to pay restitution of $1.1 million, which also includes funds from a third theft. His sentences will run at the same time.
Caro, who was disbarred in November, is the son of Robert Caro, the Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Robert Moses and Lyndon Johnson.
Two points came to mind when I read this report. First, no matter who the fiduciary is or how trustworthy that person may appear, systemic, structural safeguards against malfeasance are ALWAYS needed. I’ve written about this point before and given specific examples of the types of safeguards I’m referring to [click here and here]. Second, if someone is accusing the fiduciary of taking money that didn’t belong to him or her, that claim may morph into a criminal prosecution against the fiduciary. Which means that if you’re representing the fiduciary you need to be thinking about whether or not your client should refuse to answer deposition questions or file an accounting based on his or her Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination [click here for recent example of this point].