A former Bristol lawyer who allegedly took more than $1 million from an elderly woman is facing 29 felony larceny charges.
The arrest of Roger Nielson, 65, stemmed from a complaint lodged with police in July 2012 by the administrator of the estate of a former client. Nielson allegedly wrote 15 checks—from $1,000 to $150,000—to himself drawn on the client’s account. He was arraigned in Superior Court in Bristol on April 11 and posted a $25,000 bond. His next court appearance is May 30.
Nielson’s lawyer, Hartford’s Donald Freeman, declined to comment on the criminal case or a related civil suit. According to the state Judicial Branch website, in July 2012, a Superior Court judge suspended Nielson from the practice of law and the Statewide Grievance Committee was ordered to conduct an audit of IOLTA and trust accounts held by him.
In April 2013, Nielson resigned his bar license and waived the privilege of applying for readmission, according to court records.
The case dates to 2009, when Eunice Bossi, of Bristol, hired Nielson after her husband died and left his estate to her. After Eunice Bossi died in 2012, her niece was appointed executrix of the estate. The niece, Susan Cady, reportedly found problems with her aunt’s finances and filed a lawsuit against Nielson. Cady claims Nielson took more than $1 million from her aunt’s accounts in 2011.
In court documents, Cady alleges Nielson “exerted control” over Bossi by isolating her from her family.
The lawyer allegedly changed the locks on Bossi’s home, took her checkbooks, screened her mail, changed the ignition on her car so only he had the key, and told her she would have to go to a nursing home unless she let him manage her money. The lawyer is also accused of liquidating some of Bossi’s savings bonds and selling some of her stocks.
A forensic accountant hired by the family told police in July 2012 that he had a copy of a letter from Freeman that “reportedly contains an admission from attorney Freeman, who states that his client, Roger Nielson, did inappropriately withdraw $1,005,000 but later reimbursed the full amount,” according to an affidavit for Nielson’s arrest.
The forensic accountant, Stephen Pedneault, from Glastonbury, said that there were several checks drawn against Bossi’s account that were made payable to Nielson. Pedneault stated that Nielson also made out and signed the checks.
Cady told police that on Oct. 1, 2011, Bossi revoked Nielson’s power of attorney and appointed Cady and her brother, Joseph Mancini, as her new attorneys-in-fact. Cady said her aunt repeatedly told her that Nielson was going to be “mad and upset with her for removing him as attorney-in fact.”
“Cady stated that she and Mancini took Eunice Bossi to a notary on Oct. 1, 2011. She stated Eunice was obviously afraid of Nielson, shaking visibly,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Cady said that she tried to contact Nielson, but he did not return calls. When Cady called Bossi two days later, the older woman reported that Nielson had come to her house and brought her new papers to sign. “Susan, I changed my mind. I want Roger to be my lawyer and Roger has the papers I signed,” Eunice Bossi told her niece, according to the affidavit.
Police and a forensic fraud examiner met with Freeman and Nielson at the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney in Rocky Hill in January. Copies of 15 checks were shown to Nielson. “Nielson admitted to writing the checks and depositing the proceeds from these checks into his own accounts. Nielson further stated that the restitution he paid was for repayment of these checks,” according to the affidavit.
In January, according to court documents, Freeman and Nielson said they reached a tentative settlement to a civil suit brought by the estates of Eunice and Joseph Bossi. Freeman said Nielson would make an additional $75,000 restitution from his personal funds and that his malpractice insurance carrier would pay $325,000 to the Bossi estates.
Court records indicate that on March 21, Cady filed a “withdrawal of action” notice in New Britain Superior Court.•