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An Ozone Park lawyer who admitted to having drug and financial problems was charged last week with stealing more than $60,000 from four of his clients, the Queens district attorney said last Wednesday.
The lawyer, Jason Ashley, 31, a West Islip resident who has a law office at 96-08 101st St. in Ozone Park, was arrested April 17 and was charged with four counts of grand larceny, said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison on each count, Brown said.
The defendant is alleged to have betrayed the trust of his clients by ripping them off for over $60,000, Brown said. This type of behavior and alleged criminal activity is unacceptable from anyone, especially from an attorney whose duties are to represent his clients fully, fairly, honestly and to the best of his legal ability.
Ashley was arraigned last week and released without bail, a spokeswoman for the district attorney said.
Ashley could not be reached for comment.
The indictment said the defendant admitted to having an escrow problem stemming from a short-term loan of $70,000 to another client, which was never repaid, as well as a drug problem, Brown said. It was alleged that the money taken from the accounts was used to make that loan, Brown said.
According to the charges, Ashley received $40,000 from a client on Jan. 4 and placed the money in an escrow account at a J.P. Morgan branch in Queens, although a spokeswoman for the district attorney could not specify which branch. The money was to be used for a real estate transaction, and the buyer noticed the money was missing when he went to close on the deal, Brown said.
In a separate incident on Sept. 20, 2001, Ashley allegedly received $11,000 from a client to be placed in an escrow account and when the client requested the money be returned it was not, Brown said.
Ashley also is accused of taking $5,000 apiece from two other clients who gave him the money to be deposited in escrow accounts for real estate transactions, Brown said. But when the deals were not completed, the clients were unable to get their money back, Brown said.
Ashley is due back in court on May 1, said a spokeswoman for the district attorney.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2002 Community Newspaper Group
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