N.Y. real estate lawyer who stole millions from clients disbarred

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The building exterior of the New York County Supreme Court is seen in Manhattan. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • Mitchell Kossoff has admitted to stealing millions in client funds
  • Kossoff pleaded guilty to criminal charges in December, is awaiting sentencing

(Reuters) - Attorney regulators in New York have disbarred Mitchell Kossoff after the real estate lawyer pleaded guilty in December to criminal charges over his theft of millions of dollars in client funds.

Kossoff, the owner of the now-defunct Kossoff PLLC law firm, pleaded guilty in New York County Supreme Court to charges of grand larceny in the first, second and third degrees, and scheming to defraud in the first degree.

Prosecutors said Kossoff misappropriated more than $14.6 million from at least 35 people and companies, which he admitted to in his plea agreement, New York's Appellate Division, First Department said in its Thursday order disbarring Kossoff.

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Walter Mack, Kossoff's criminal defense attorney, said in an email the official disbarment was anticipated as a result of his client's guilty plea, and Kossoff had "tendered his resignation from the bar" a year ago.

The New York appellate court said Kossoff did not reply to the court's attorney grievance committee's motion to disbar him.

Kossoff, a fixture of the New York real estate market, began transferring funds from his clients' accounts in December 2017, using the money to support another family business and personal expenses, prosecutors said. That included spending an average of $16,000 monthly on personal credit card bills and $19,000 a month to rent a Manhattan luxury apartment.

Prosecutors have said Kossoff, 68, will be sentenced in April and could serve a prison term of 4-1/2 to 13-1/2 years. A spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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N.Y. real estate lawyer charged with stealing millions pleads guilty

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.