Lawyer charged with stealing $735K deposit

Manhattan real estate attorney James J. Armenakis was arraigned today on charges of allegedly pocketing a $735,000 deposit for a four-bedroom Nolita condominium unit that went into contract last year, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said.

He pleaded not guilty and was released after posting a $75,000 bond, a spokesperson for the DA’s office said.

Prosecutors said Armenakis, 65, took the 10 percent deposit after his client signed a $7.35 million sales contract in October 2007 on the loft-style apartment at 285 Lafayette Street, at Jersey Street. Calls to Armenakis and his attorney were not immediately returned.

The deposit was supposed to be deducted from the purchase price when the sale was finalized, but Armenakis did not appear at the May 2, 2008 closing and did not apply the deposit to the purchase price. Instead he spent the money on personal items, prosecutors said.

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The 7,000-square-foot unit was originally listed for $9.5 million, according to The buyer was On International LLC, according to city records.

Armenakis and his law firm Armenakis & Armenakis were charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. If he is found guilty, Armenakis faces up to 15 years in prison.

Armenakis was also charged in a separate felony complaint, with grand larceny and filing false instruments related to tax violations, and faces up to four years in prison on those counts, the DA’s office said.

In 2006, the Post reported he was the city’s sixth worst business-tax deadbeat, allegedly owing $218,703.