An ex-attorney from Baldwin was arrested for allegedly stealing more than $1 million from a disabled client whose property was condemned to make way for a community center in Westbury, authorities said.
Janice Jessup pleaded not guilty Thursday at Nassau County to court to felony charges of grand larceny and scheme to defraud.
“This former attorney has been arrested and charged with a high-dollar, elaborate larceny that targeted a severely disabled woman and defrauded the court system and taxpayers of Nassau County,” Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas said.
Prosecutors said the 67-year-old suspect represented a mentally and physically disabled woman in an eminent domain proceeding in which her client was awarded $1.2 million for her property in 2008 to clear the way for construction of the Yes We Can Community Center.
Instead of giving her client the money, Jessup allegedly spent it on personal, business and other expenses that included direct payments to herself and members of her family as well as payments to her other clients, authorities said.
Jessup allegedly had arranged for another person to impersonate her client when a court-appointed referee twice visited her client’s home to verify the client’s physical and mental capacities while the client was actually living in a care facility, according to investigators.
Jessup was disbarred in 2010 while facing unrelated allegations of professional misconduct. The alleged scheme came to light three years later. Jessup, who is also known by the married name Janice Jones, has since moved to North Carolina.
Judge Jerald Carter set bail for Jessup at $150,000 bond or $100,000 cash. If convicted, she faces up to 8-1/3 to 25 years in prison. She is due back in court on Wednesday.