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Press Release

Cooperstown Man Charged with Money Laundering, Filing False Tax Returns

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of New York

ALBANY, NEW YORK – Thomas K. Lagan, age 60, of Cooperstown, New York, and formerly of Slingerlands, New York, was arraigned today on money laundering and tax charges relating to the theft of approximately $11.8 million from estates for which he served as a fiduciary. 

The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith; New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood; James N. Hendricks, Special Agent in Charge of the Albany Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and James D. Robnett, Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of IRS-Criminal Investigation.

A federal indictment charges that Lagan, between November 2011 and February 2018, conspired with Richard J. Sherwood to launder the proceeds of a fraud conspiracy.  Lagan is also accused of failing to report more than $5.3 million in income to the Internal Revenue Service in 2013 and 2015.  In a separate indictment being prosecuted by the New York Attorney General’s Office, Lagan is charged in Albany County Court with grand larceny in the first degree, criminal possession of stolen property, and a scheme to defraud.  The charges in the indictments are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Lagan appeared today before United States Magistrate Judge Daniel J. Stewart, who ordered him released on his own recognizance. 

If convicted on the federal charges, Lagan would face up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to 3 years of post-imprisonment supervised release.  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. 

Lagan’s alleged co-conspirator, Sherwood, pled guilty in June 2018 to federal and state charges. 

Sherwood, an attorney since 1988, practiced primarily in the area of trusts and estates.  Starting in about 2006, he provided estate planning and related legal services to Capital Region philanthropists Warren and Pauline Bruggeman, and to Pauline’s sister, Anne Urban, all of Niskayuna, New York.  Sherwood was advising the Bruggemans when, in 2006, they signed wills directing that all their assets go to charities, churches and civic organizations, aside from bequests to Anne Urban and Julia Rentz, Pauline’s other sister.

Warren Bruggeman died in April 2009, and Pauline died in August 2011.  At the time of her death, Pauline had personal and trust assets valued at approximately $20 million.

In pleading guilty, Sherwood admitted that after Pauline Bruggeman’s death, he and Lagan conspired to steal and launder millions of dollars from her estate as well as from Anne Urban, who died in 2013.  Their conspiracy came to include the diversion and transfer to themselves of several million dollars belonging to Julia Rentz, a resident of Ohio, who was suffering from dementia at the time of the thefts and died in 2013. 

The federal case is being investigated by the FBI and IRS-CI, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett. 

The state case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Christopher Baynes and Matthew Peluso of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau, under the supervision of Bureau Chief Daniel G. Cort and Deputy Bureau Chief Stacy Aronowitz. The Criminal Justice Division is led by Executive Deputy Attorney General Margaret Garnett.  The investigation was led by Investigator Mark Spencer of the Attorney General’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Chief Investigator Antoine Karam. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Dominick Zarrella. Meaghan Scovello, Associate Forensic Auditor, provided the financial analysis. The Forensic Audit Section is supervised by Edward Keegan. Senior Analyst Sara Pogorzelski assisted in the investigation.

Updated September 14, 2018

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud