Disbarred Attorney Sentenced To Two Years in Prison for Stealing $2 Million from Would-Be Real Estate Investors
Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, Alice Belmonte, a disbarred attorney formerly with offices in Long Island and Manhattan, was sentenced by United States District Judge Denis R. Hurley to 24 months’ imprisonment for engaging in a wire fraud scheme and stealing $2 million from victims who believed they were giving her money to invest in real estate. Belmonte was also ordered to pay $2 million in restitution to those victims. In September 2017, Belmonte pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the sentence.
“Alice Belmonte, falsely holding herself out as an experienced practicing attorney, prevailed upon investors to trust her with their money and then stole it from them,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “With today’s sentence, she has been held responsible for her crime. Together with our law enforcement partners, this Office will continue to hold accountable those who violate the trust of others to enrich themselves.”
Shortly after being disbarred for misconduct in February 2013, Belmonte held herself out as an attorney who could assist clients in acquiring real estate investments. Belmonte communicated with her victim investors with emails sent from her “email@example.com” address. Relying on Belmonte’s purported expertise, the investors deposited $2 million into an escrow account she opened. The funds were supposed to be held in escrow until a suitable portfolio of real estate properties could be purchased. Between March and June 2013, Belmonte contacted the escrow agent, using falsified email addresses in the names of her victims, and sent fraudulent instructions purporting to authorize the transfer of the $2 million to a second bank account she controlled in the name, “Alice Phillips Belmonte Attorney Escrow Account.” Belmonte then diverted the funds to yet additional accounts she controlled by forging fraudulent disbursement instructions, ostensibly from one of the victims. The victims’ money was never invested in real estate for them, nor did they receive their money back.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorney Artie McConnell is in charge of the prosecution.
ALICE BELMONTE (also known as “Alice Marie Phillips” and “Alice Marie Ward”)
Wading River, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 16-CR-260 (DRH)