An attorney from Lido Beach was arrested Wednesday after authorities said she allegedly stole $16,000 from an escrow account that was supposed to be used to pay taxes in a New York real estate transaction, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said March 19.
Susan Odery, 56, was released without bail after being arraigned Wednesday afternoon on two counts of third-degree grand larceny. She is scheduled to be back in court next month.
Prosecutors said Odery was hired by a New Jersey mother and daughter in April 2012 to represent them in the closing on the sale of an apartment in New York City. During the transaction, they agreed $16,758 would be applied as a payment toward New York State taxes, the DA’s office said.
Odery, according to officials, wrote two checks during the closing to pay the taxes in May 2012, but state officials were unable to cash the checks, which were allegedly returned as unpaid. Investigators later learned Odery had stopped payments on both checks, authorities said.
In April 2013, the victims were contacted by the state tax department and received a bill that included penalties for not submitting their estimated tax on the sale in a timely manner, the DA’s office said.
The sellers later reached out to Odery about the bill, but she “claimed that there was an error and that she would handle it,” a district attorney’s office news release said. Prosecutors said Odery never paid the tax bill and later told her clients she might not be able to find their files because of damage caused by Superstorm Sandy.
“The attorney-client relationship is pivotal to the functioning of our society and when that bond is broken, our entire legal system is weakened,” Rice said in a statement. “My office will continue to pursue these cases to make sure that the trust all clients should have in their attorneys is never misplaced.”
No one answered the phone Wednesday afternoon at Odery’s home in Lido Beach. Her attorney did not immediately comment on the allegations.
Odery is due back in court on April 4. If convicted, she could faces up to seven years in prison.