Former Attorney Sentenced to 1 ½ Years for Stealing Retainer Fees from Clients Seeking Child Adoption Services
PHILADELPHIA – Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Steven G. Dubin, 66, of Holland, PA, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $74,800 restitution by United States District Court Judge Gene E.K. Pratter for fraud stemming from a scheme to steal his clients’ retainer fees and use them for other expenses.
In June 2018, the defendant pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Dubin was an attorney licensed to practice in Pennsylvania who offered services to prospective adoptive parents. From December 2010 to February 2013, Dubin stole clients’ retainer fees which he falsely represented would be held in an escrow account, to be spent on those clients’ future expenses in the adoption process. In addition, Dubin began operating his own “Ponzi scheme,” using retainer fees from new clients to pay himself for legal fees or expenses related to other clients. Even after he was disbarred in 2012, Dubin continued to accept new retainer fees from clients. In some cases, he still represented himself to be an attorney licensed to practice law.
“The process of adopting a child can be long, complicated, and emotionally draining, and prospective parents often rely on professionals like adoption attorneys to navigate the bureaucratic hurdles,” said Acting U.S. Attorneys Williams. “Here, Steven Dubin took advantage of this position of trust to steal money from unsuspecting clients who thought he was going to help them adopt a child, even after being disbarred. His behavior is a despicable violation of professional ethics.”
“Steven Dubin had no compunction about lying to his clients, doing so deliberately and repeatedly,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “These people were depending on him to shepherd them through the adoption process and hopefully bring a child into their lives. Instead, he spent their money as his own and hid his eventual disbarment, abandoning all pretense of professional ethics and personal morality. Finally, he’s being held accountable for those years of clear-cut fraud.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vineet Gauri.