A suspended lawyer from New Jersey allegedly stole $400,000 from Brooklyn clients who hired him to fight wrongful arrest and personal injury lawsuits against New York City, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez says.
Raleigh Douglas Herbert, 60, has been charged with second-degree and third-degree grand larceny, first-degree scheme to defraud, second-degree criminal contempt and practicing law as an attorney while being suspended.
According to Gonzalez, from 2015 to 2021, Herbert embezzled approximately $400,000 from nine of his clients in Brooklyn by depositing checks received from negotiated settlements into his attorney escrow account.
To conceal the thefts, Herbert allegedly lied to his clients about why they did not receive the money, which included blaming COVID-19 related court closures or claiming that the victims had liens that prevented him from paying them when no such liens existed.
Herbert is alleged to have spent much of the embezzled funds on various expenses and debts.
Herbert is also accused of continuing to represent a client in a wrongful death lawsuit against the New York City Police Department despite being suspended from practicing law in New York State as of March 5, 2021.
Herbert allegedly did not tell the client – who was set to receive a $750,000 settlement – he had been suspended.
Gonzalez said attorneys had a special duty to protect their clients’ interests, “but this defendant allegedly betrayed that trust and his oath by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlements owed to those he represented.”
“The criminal misconduct alleged in this indictment cannot be tolerated in the legal profession, and we are committed to holding this defendant accountable and vindicating the rights of his alleged victims.”
Gonzalez added that, during his tenure, his office had prosecuted more than twelve attorneys for misconduct related to their work.
Herbert was arraigned Tuesday at Brooklyn Supreme Court, and was released without bail and ordered to return to court on April 5, 2022. People who believe they have been victimized by Herbert are encouraged to contact the District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2340.