New York Lawyer Pleads Guilty To Bilking Jewish Cemetery . . . After Taking Over From Couple Who Bilked The Same Cemetery

cemetery11n-1-webAttorney Timothy Griffin, 55, has been sentenced to a six-month prison stint in a pile up of criminal and unethical conduct, including the theft of $1.8 million from a non-profit Jewish cemetery. It turns out that he was not the first professional to victimize the cemetery.

Griffin was sentenced for tax evasion by a federal judge in Connecticut. However, he is facing a much longer sentence after pleading guilty in a separate case in New York for stealing the money from the United Hebrew cemetery. He could receive 9 years for that crime. He is also expected to plead guilty to stealing another $1 million in embezzled funds from real estate client escrow accounts.

s-Ilana-Friedman-041613What is incredible is that Griffin was asked to serve as acting president of United Hebrew Cemetery after he predecessor stole $850,000. Griffin took over for former president Arthur Friedman and his wife, Ilana (right), who stole the over $850,000 between 2005 and 2011. Arthur Friedman, 56, was the Superintendent and a director of United Hebrew Cemetery while she would later serve as a director and worked as the cemetery’s No. 2 administrator. Prosecutors said that the husband failed to stop the thievery of his wife and benefited from it. Ilana Friedman, 51, was convicted of felony grand larceny charges in April 2013. The two defendants even charged groceries to the cemetery as well as other items like jewelry and theater tickets. Both are banned from working in the funeral or cemetery industries again.

If Griffin pledged to do better that the Friedmans, he succeeded . . . he then stole nearly $2 million more.

His attorney cited a drinking problem and high divorce costs with six children requiring support. However, prosecutors said that some of the money was used on a country club membership, luxury vehicles and jewelry.

14 thoughts on “New York Lawyer Pleads Guilty To Bilking Jewish Cemetery . . . After Taking Over From Couple Who Bilked The Same Cemetery”

  1. I want to get the lyrics to that Frank Sinatra song about New York. Then I could interpose some modern day lyrics.

  2. Perhaps, it’s time to start burying grandma in the backyard or a family plot again.

  3. These folks could use a clean sweep of the entire board just to get some alert persons in office. Interestingly enough however there is very little CYA “protection” offered by the legal profession to its members, especially as compared to the police and the medical professions. Every issue of my state bar journal details actions taken to disbar and to suspend and fine lawyers for improper behavior well below criminal. As to criminal — well a felony gets you a permanent red card. In the medical profession a felony does not get your medical license revoked or suspended. Crimes only “count” if committed in the course of providing medical services. So bilking an insurance company or Medicare is not a red card as the doctor just committed fraud not some form of malpractice. I had a doctor client who was into kiddie-diddling (as he called it) and the hospitals and medical practices where he worked never reported him. They just asked him to resign and go elsewhere. But greed and stupid never work well forever and when he was finally accused my partner and I made sure he had all of the ‘due process’ guaranteed by law … and the AG made sure the judge had all the properly admissible evidence. That was enough for 20 years.

  4. randyjet: in new york state, an attorney who has been convicted of a felony is automatically disbarred, by operation of law. nothing further needs to be done, other than the ministerial act of striking the name from the roll.

    some minor issues exist as to a conviction in another jurisdiction (another state or federal) where the specific crime does not fit precisely into the new york state definition of felony. mr. turley provides no details about the the conviction in connecticut, other than federal “tax evasion.” i note that 26 U.S.C. 7201 states, “Any person who willfully attempts in any manner to evade or defeat any tax imposed by this title or the payment thereof shall, in addition to other penalties provided by law, be guilty of a felony …”

    generally, a sentence of six months is something less than the typical sentence for a felon, which would be at least one year. nevertheless, my own research reveals that griffin pleaded guilty in federal court in connecticut to filing a false tax return, which exposed him to a three-year term and a fine of $250,000. without more, i’d conclude that the connecticut conviction alone will be sufficient to satisfy the new york state disbarment threshold.

    and with more to come, on the face of it, this guy is going down … for a very long time.

  5. Isaac, The 3 groups that protect their own, more than any others, are cops, attorneys and politicians, not necessarily in that order.

  6. Substantial jail sentences, loss of all privileges-to practice law, run certain businesses, etc. and lots and lots of publicity. The greatest punishment and deterrent is a certain notoriety.

  7. This does not bode well for the next person(s) taking over. The place is cursed. I wonder if that is a defense?

  8. To keep up the rate of theft from Friedman then Griffin (x2.18) means the next president of United Hebrew Cemetery will have to steal $3,811,764.

    It would be hard to steal exactly that amount, so it may be easier to round up to $4M, although I’m sure their an accountant would be helpful arranging it again.

  9. Maybe all the accountants known by the board at United Hebrew Cemetery are already buried.

    I want to buy a plot there and plan to pay for it with internet pictures of kittens or a piece of paper with a hand-drawn millionty dollar bill.

  10. I notice that no mention was made as to his bar card. and membership Is this enough to get him disbarred, or will it require a felony conviction? Seems that the legal profession attracts the wrong kind of people given the numbers of lawyers doing wrong.

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