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Brooklyn Justice Michael J. Garson, in an unusual move, will appear before the grand jury investigating whether he stole money from his elderly aunt, his lawyer confirmed Tuesday. Attorney Ronald Aiello said that when Garson tells his side of the story “directly to the grand jury, they will learn he was nothing but a devoted nephew who had the best interests of his aunt in mind.” Jerry Schmetterer, a spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of grand jury proceedings. At least since April, a grand jury convened by the district attorney’s office has been investigating whether Garson abused a power of attorney his aunt, Sarah Gershenoff, gave him in 1997 to handle her finances. The grand jury also is reportedly investigating whether there was a forgery involved in the power of attorney. Robert Kruger, a court-appointed guardian who subsequently took over the management of Gershenoff’s finances, reported last year that Garson had given away $350,000, nearly half of the funds his aunt had when he took over the power of attorney. Of that amount, Garson authorized $335,000 in gifts to himself and his first cousin, Gerald P. Garson, who is also a Supreme Court justice in Brooklyn. Justice Gerald Garson, in an unrelated case, has been indicted for accepting bribes to give a lawyer court assignments. Last year, in a proceeding seeking an accounting of Gershenoff’s funds brought by Kruger, Manhattan Justice Walter Tolub found that Justice Michael Garson had failed to keep adequate records and ordered him to pay his aunt $163,000. Garson has contended that his gifts were a legal and appropriate way to make his aunt eligible for Medicaid. In the proceeding before Tolub, Kruger did not challenge the propriety of the gifts. Aiello said he also is asking the district attorney’s office to let him present to the grand jury one or two Medicaid experts. He said the experts would testify that the gifts the judge made from his aunt’s funds were a “usual and entirely appropriate” way to reduce her assets to qualify her for Medicaid. Garson “must tell his story to the grand jury,” Aiello said, so it will understand that he acted properly in “spending down” her assets over time rather than all at once. The experts would testify that “spending down” is an accepted technique used to qualify for Medicaid, he said.

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