Thursday, January 29, 2009

"A Pretty Vicious Guy"

From the Daily News Brooklyn:

A crooked Brooklyn lawyer ripped off disabled people to the tune of $4 million and used the cash to spruce up his plush suburban home, prosecutors charged Wednesday.

Steven Rondos, 44, and his law firm, Raia & Rondos of Bay Ridge, blew cash from clients' malpractice settlements on a home theater, a fancy new kitchen and landscaping for his Ridgewood, N.J., home, authorities said.

"The son of a b---- was a pretty vicious guy, preying on incapacitated people," Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.

Rondos stole more than $4 million from 23 incapacitated victims between 2001 and 2008 by putting the bulk of money from their medical malpractice settlements into his firm's account, Morgenthau said.

Rondos used the money to make mortgage payments and renovate his New Jersey house, and to pay for landscaping and install a home theater, prosecutors said.

Rondos recently agreed to be disbarred over similar allegations in New Jersey, court papers revealed.

Rondos' lawyer, David Frankel, did not return calls.

Morgenthau said it was "shocking" that court-appointed regulators never spotted the fraud.

"A lot of people should have paid more attention to what this [guy] was doing," he said.

David Bookstaver, a spokesman for the Office of Court Administration, claimed officials have closed loopholes in the system that helped allow the scam to go unnoticed.

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