Disgraced real estate lawyer Mitchell Kossoff, who pleaded guilty in December to swindling millions of dollars from his clients, has been disbarred in New York State.
According to Reuters, New York’s Appellate Division, First Department, ruled on Thursday that Kossoff, who is awaiting sentencing since admitting he misappropriated $14.6 million from at least 35 people and companies, could no longer practice law in the state.
The ruling was expected by his defense team, which told the news service Kossoff had resigned from the bar about a year ago. The appellate court added that neither Kossoff nor his defense team replied to the court’s motion to disbar him.
The Kossoff scandal came to light in April of last year when Kossoff — who represented such major rent-regulated landlords as Steve Croman of 9300 Realty, Terrence Lowenberg and Todd Cohen’s Icon Realty Management, and Larry Gluck’s Stellar Management — suddenly vanished along with the more than $14 million dollars from escrow accounts he controlled.
The disappearance of the prominent real estate attorney, known in Manhattan for his encyclopedic knowledge of the state’s byzantine rent stabilization and loft laws as well as the spin classes he hosted at the New York Sports Club near City Hall, prompted clients’ panicked inquiries over the whereabouts of the millions of dollars he was entrusted to hold.
But Kossoff reappeared in New York County Supreme Court in December when he admitted to the crimes of grand larceny in the first, second and third degrees, along with scheming to defraud in the first degree.
“I defrauded multiple clients of my law firm,” Kossoff said at the time.
According to the report, Kossoff started moving funds from his clients’ accounts in December 2017, then used the money to prop up a separate family business and for personal use —including an average of $16,000 monthly on personal credit card bills and $19,000 a month to rent a Manhattan apartment.
The 68-year-old is facing between four-and-half and 13-and-a-half years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for later this week.
[Reuters] — Vince DiMiceli