Leonard Grunstein, a prominent New York real estate lawyer and former Troutman Sanders partner, pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge of lying under oath during a civil deposition taken amid a lengthy legal fight over a portfolio of nursing homes.
The terms of Grunstein’s plea agreement—announced via a press release issued by the district attorney’s office in Manhattan—prohibit him from seeking readmission to the New York State Bar Association. The attorney registry on the website of the New York State Unified Court System lists Grunstein’s current status as “resigned.”
The New York Observer, which first had news of Grunstein’s plea to perjury in the third degree, reported back in 2009 on his key role in helping tenants of Manhattan’s massive Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village apartment complex challenge the property owner’s plan to raise rents following a disastrous $5.4 billion buyout. Grunstein is a key figure in “Other People’s Money,” a book about the ill-fated deal published earlier this year by New York Times reporter—and Observer alum—Charles Bagli.
Grunstein, 61, is the former head of Troutman’s real estate investments and capitalization practice groups. He left the firm in November 2009 when he was named in a complaint filed by federal prosecutors investigating a $50 million kickbacks scheme stemming from a complex real estate deal involving a nursing home operator called Mariner Health Care.
The Am Law Daily reported in February 2010 that Grunstein was one of five defendants to reach a $14 million civil settlement with the Justice Department in connection with that inquiry. None of the five admitted wrongdoing as part of their agreement. But it was during the civil litigation that sprang up in the wake of that deal when Grunstein was accused of lying about funding for a loan used in the $1 billion leveraged buyout of Mariner Health in 2004.
“I intentionally made a false statement that I did not believe to be true,” Grunstein read from a plea agreement during an allocution Wednesday in Manhattan Supreme Court, according to the NYLJ.
Grunstein’s attorneys, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel litigation cochair Barry Berke and partner Dani James, did not respond to requests for comment. Grunstein, a resident of Teaneck, N.J., who has continued to write about legal issues, is now a managing member at Hanlen Real Estate Development & Funding LLC in New York.
Grunstein now faces a sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 4, according to the Manhattan D.A.’s press release on the matter. The NYLJ reports that he is not expected to face prison time as a result of his plea agreement.
A Troutman spokesman declined a request for comment about Grunstein’s plea, noting that he has not been affiliated with the firm for four years. Grunstein retained Larry Hutcher of New York’s Davidoff Hutcher & Citron for a malpractice suit filed against Troutman in 2012. (Hutcher did not respond to a request for comment.) New York’s Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman is representing Troutman in the litigation, most of which was dismissed by a Manhattan judge earlier this year, according to legal newswire Law360.