Connecticut Attorney Admits Stealing More Than $600k From Client’s Trust Account
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that HAROLD JAMES PICKERSTEIN, 69, of Fairfield, Connecticut, waived his right to indictment and pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in federal court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, to one count of mail fraud related to his theft of more than $600,000 from a client’s investment account.
According to court documents and statements made in court, PICKERSTEIN, an attorney, represented an individual (“Victim 1”) and served as the trustee for an investment account (the “Trust Account”) held for the benefit of Victim 1. Between approximately August 2011 and October 2013, PICKERSTEIN withdrew $613,216.20 from the Trust Account without authorization from Victim 1 and used the funds to pay for personal expenses, including payments to state and federal tax authorities to satisfy his tax liabilities.
In November 2013, PICKERSTEIN was to disburse all remaining funds in the Trust Account to Victim 1. After Victim 1 questioned PICKERSTEIN as to why the disbursed funds were less than Victim 1 expected, PICKERSTEIN sent a letter to Victim 1 in which he falsely represented that a portion of the Trust Account’s funds had been deducted to pay legal bills.
PICKERSTEIN faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of approximately $1.2 million, and $633,410.04 in restitution.
PICKERSTEIN resigned from the Connecticut bar in December 2014.
This matter has been investigated by Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Nardini.
The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York has been overseeing the case because of the recusal of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.