A disbarred Long Island attorney has been charged with stealing more than $20,000 intended for client settlements.
Reinelda Elizabeth Urena de Checo of Freeport was arrested Wednesday on two counts of third-degree grand larceny after the Appellate Division, Second Department announced her disbarment in January.
According to prosecutors, two separate clients gave de Checo money to be put towards settlements. In one case, de Checo allegedly cashed the check but did not forward the money to the other party and stopped answering her client’s calls. In the other case, de Checo allegedly received the sum from her client, but her check to the attorney for the other party bounced. Prosecutors said she never followed up with a new check and stopped responding to her client’s calls and letters.
De Checo, 39, pleaded not guilty when arraigned before Nassau County District Court Judge Rhonda Fischer. She was conditionally released to probation and faces a maximum of 21/3 to 7 years on each charge.
“Clients shouldn’t have to wonder if their attorney is actually working on their behalf, or profiting from their position for their own personal gain,” Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.
In disciplinary proceedings before the Second Department, de Checo resigned in Matter of Urena De Checo, 2012-01158, acknowledging she was the subject of a probe that could result in professional misconduct charges like the conversion of client funds and neglect of client matters (NYLJ, Jan. 31).
De Checo is represented by Charles Rosenblum of Krohn, Rosenblum & Rosenblum in Merrick. He said his client “is a well-respected member of her community. She is working with the District Attorney’s office to resolve the matter.”
Assistant District Attorney Edward Bradley is handling the prosecution.