Peter Lau, 37, a broker for Merrill Lynch's Forest Hills branch on Queens Boulevard, allegedly stole 28 checks belonging to the elderly woman and over the course of 18 months forged her name to deposit $321,648 into credit card accounts he had at Fleet and Chase banks, according to prosecutors.Lau, of Hauppauge, L.I., was arraigned Jan. 4 before Queens Criminal Court Judge Joseph Zayas on charges of grand larceny, forgery and criminal possession of a forged instrument, the DA said. "Everything that I have worked for is gone," Lau said in a written confession Jan. 3. "I am truly sorry for what I have done and I would like to pay back the parties involved in full.""I am sorry to my family, my friends, my colleagues and all my clients whom I have known and become my good friends," he wrote. "I am not trying to justify what I did. What I did was wrong and if I had a choice, I would never want to do (it) again."Lau was held on $100,000 bail and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. He is due back in court Jan. 25.The victim, Carrie Cummins, who lives in Forest Hills, notified authorities when she noticed blanks on her bank statements where thousand-dollar figures should have been, the New York Post reported. Prosecutors say the theft spree lasted from June 2004 to the end of last year."As a broker, the defendant had a fiduciary responsibility to act in his client's best interests and to act honestly," DA Richard Brown said. "Allegedly, by improperly using his client's hard-earned assets for his own personal use, he failed to fulfill those obligations and must now face the consequences of his actions."Lau's lawyer, Joseph Girardi, did not return a call for comment.Mark Herr, a spokesman for Merrill Lynch, said Lau was fired on Jan. 3."When Merrill Lynch detected irregularities with this account, it promptly investigated and, based on what it found, turned over the relevant information to the authorities," the brokerage firm said in a statement. "Within a week of Merrill Lynch beginning its investigation, Mr. Lau was terminated and charged by the authorities, and Merrill Lynch was in the process of reimbursing the client fully."Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@times
©2006 Community News Group
By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:
You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.