Former Albany Attorney Sentenced to 68 Months for Defrauding Clients, Law Firm
ALBANY, NEW YORK – Albert Hessberg III, age 64, a disbarred attorney residing in Slingerlands, New York, was sentenced today to 68 months in prison for 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 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, 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: “Today’s sentence holds Albert Hessberg accountable for a 12-year crime spree and a staggering amount of betrayal by an attorney. Hessberg did not care about his clients, their heirs, or his oath to faithfully discharge his obligations as an attorney when he stole $2 million. Lawyers must be held to society’s highest standards, and we will not waver in our efforts to hold them accountable when they commit serious crimes.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge James N. Hendricks stated: “Albert Hessberg spent 12 years deliberately stealing from his clients and lying to their families. He showed a despicable disregard for the very oath he took as an attorney and now he's facing the consequences. The FBI will continue to work with our partners to ensure this kind of malicious behavior is investigated and prosecuted.”
Hessberg pled guilty in May to 1 count each of wire fraud, mail fraud and filing a false tax return.
United States District Judge Mae A. D’Agostino also imposed a 2-year term of supervised release, and ordered Hessberg to pay $2,638,147.40 in restitution, and to forfeit $2,060,803.40 to the government. In sentencing Hessberg, she noted that he acted in a “ruthless and predatory fashion.”
In November 2018, the Appellate Division, Third Department suspended Hessberg from the practice of law, and followed with an order of disbarment in June 2019.
This case was investigated by the FBI and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Barnett.