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No jail for Long Island lawyer who stole clients’ money

Reinelda Elizabeth Urena de Checo, 40, of Freeport, pleaded guilty Friday to a grand larceny charge after admitting she stole nearly $30,000 in settlement money from clients, prosecutors say.
Photo Credit: Nassau County District Attorney

A disbarred Long Island lawyer pleaded guilty Friday to a felony grand larceny charge and admitted she stole money from clients, but will spend no time in jail, Nassau County prosecutors said.

Reinelda Elizabeth Urena de Checo, 40, of Freeport, pleaded guilty to a third-degree grand larceny charge on Friday. Prosecutors say she is expected to be sentenced to five years of probation and 500 hours of community service. She will also need to pay back $28,925 in restitution before her next court date in October.

Urena de Checo – who according to public records began practicing law in 2003 – had been hired by a Hempstead barber in June 2013 to represent him in a civil case. The man allegedly gave Urena de Checo $10,000 in cash, which was supposed to be used to pay a lawsuit settlement, prosecutors said. She allegedly cut a check, but it was returned for insufficient funds and the money was never paid, according to the DA’s office.

Prosecutors said another one of Urena de Checo’s clients – a Hempstead restaurateur – gave a check for $10,600 to be paid toward a settlement in a landlord-tenant case. Prosecutors charge Urena de Checo cashed the check and never forwarded the money to the other party in the case. Prosecutors also cited two other cases in which Urena de Checo is accused of taking money from clients and then never performing the promised legal work.

Urena de Checo was arrested in March after an investigation by district attorney’s investigators. Her lawyer, Kimberly Lerner, said: “Ms. Urena de Checo is pleased to conclude this process and move on with her life. She would like to thank her supporters who have stood with her and offered encouragement throughout this process.”

Urena de Checo resigned from practicing law last January. According to a New York Law Journal report, a disciplinary investigation found evidence that could result in a professional misconduct charge. A court order said she is prohibited from practicing as an attorney for at least seven years.

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