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South Ozone Park lawyer bilked clients of $12K: DA

A former Queens attorney from South Ozone Park was charged April 16 with stealing $12,000 from two clients and practicing law with a suspended license, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Brown said Jaime Rodriguez, 33, of 94-37 134th Ave., is charged with grand larceny, falsifying business records and acting as lawyer after his license had been suspended. The DA said Rodriguez faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

Brown gave a summary of the charges that were further detailed in a criminal complaint filed in Queens Criminal Court in Kew Gardens.

"The defendant is alleged to have stolen from two clients over $12,000 - a $7,000 down payment in September 1999 and $5,190 in miscellaneous expenses in September 2000," Brown said. The DA said Rodriguez allegedly accepted an $8,000 check in a November 2001 real estate transaction after his license to practice law had already been suspended.

Rodriguez was arraigned April 16 in Queens Criminal Court before Judge Steven Paynter, who set bail at $15,000 and set a return court date for April 30, Brown said.

The complaint alleges that Rodriguez sold a house for its owner at 88-11 189th St. in Hollis on Sept. 10, 1999 and subsequently received a down payment check for $7,000. The sale, however, fell through and, according to Brown, Rodriguez never returned the down payment check.

Brown also alleges Rodriguez took a check worth $5,190 from the owner of a house in Brooklyn to pay for miscellaneous expenses incurred while the house was in escrow. The DA said Rodriguez violated the terms of the sale by not returning the monies to the homeowner after the escrow was finalized.

"The charges are serious and will be vigorously prosecuted," Brown said.

He also said the complaint details deals Rodriguez allegedly made with lawyers on Nov. 14, 2001 and Nov. 30, 2001 when he wrongfully presented himself as a practicing attorney because his license had already been suspended.

Brown said Rodriguez deposited an $8,000 check in his lawyer's bank account and told a lawyer he represented an Astoria property owner - two actions that were illegal because Rodriguez did not have a valid license.

Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156

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