Albany Attorney Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Clients, Law Firm
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Albert Hessberg III, age 64, an attorney residing in Slingerlands, New York, pled guilty today to stealing at least $2 million in the course of defrauding his former clients and law firm.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Hessberg admitted to a fraudulent scheme spanning more than a decade, and pled guilty to 1 count each of wire fraud, mail fraud and filing a false tax return.
Hessberg worked for 37 years in the Albany office of the law firm now known as Barclay Damon LLP (“Barclay”), practicing in the area of trusts and estates. The Syracuse-based law firm terminated Hessberg for cause in March 2018.
Starting in 2006 and continuing until his termination in 2018, Hessberg defrauded Barclay and law firm clients, by: stealing at least $2,060,803 entrusted to him as fiduciary and trustee for his clients; stealing funds from one client to replenish the account of another client from whom he had previously stolen; billing clients and receiving payments for legal services he did not perform; and stealing payments for legal services that should have been made to Barclay.
United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith stated: “Albert Hessberg betrayed his clients, his law firm, his profession, and the courts. He stole $2 million from his clients by taking advantage of their trust, and when they asked questions about their money, he repeatedly lied to them to hide his theft. His guilty plea is the first step in holding him accountable for his despicable fraud. I thank Barclay Damon LLP for reporting this fraud as soon as it was discovered.”
FBI Special Agent James H. Hendricks stated: “At its most basic level, this is a case about greed and the abuse of trust. Albert Hessberg abused his position and defrauded clients of over two million dollars. His clients trusted him with their life savings and now he must face the consequences of his actions. The FBI is dedicated to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate these crimes because of their lasting impact on the lives of the victims and our community as a whole.”
As part of his plea, Hessberg also admitted to filing federal tax returns that were false because he did not report, as income, money that he stole as part of his fraudulent scheme.
Hessberg faces up to 20 years in prison, a maximum $250,000 fine, and up to 3 years of post-imprisonment supervised release, when he is sentenced by United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino on September 5, 2019. A defendant’s sentence is imposed by a judge based on the particular statute the defendant is charged with violating, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other factors.
In November 2018, following Hessberg’s arrest on a federal criminal complaint, the Appellate Division, Third Department suspended Hessberg from the practice of law.
This case was investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett.