Town of Guilderland Justice Richard Sherwood, a former Guilderland town attorney who was elected to the bench in 2013, is charged with two counts of grand larceny, one count of first-degree scheme to defraud and two counts of first-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
Sherwood, 58, and Thomas Lagan, an attorney and a longtime associate of Sherwood’s, provided estate planning for the estate of Warren Bruggeman, a top General Electric executive and noted Capital District philanthropist who died in 2009, according to court papers.
In the years following Bruggeman’s death, Sherwood and Lagan handled the distribution of Bruggeman’s estate for his widow, Pauline Bruggeman; and her two sisters, Anne Urban and Julia Rentz, who were to be taken care of with sub-trusts.
According to a news release from the New York Attorney General’s Office, the attorneys diverted $2 million from one of the sub-trusts into an irrevocable trust established in Urban’s name for which the two men were named as trustees.
In February, Sherwood admitted to an investigator with the New York Attorney General’s Office that the irrevocable trust established in Urban’s name was intended as a mechanism to steal estate funds, and that he and Lagan conspired to deceive an Ohio attorney assisting Rentz into wiring another $2 million into the irrevocable trust.
That same month, the Court of Appeals suspended Sherwood, an attorney with Mazzotta, Sherwood & Vagianelis who served on the bench part time, with pay. His resignation is effective March 5.
In a news release, Robert Tembeckjian, administrator and counsel for the Commission on Judicial Conduct, said public confidence in the courts is “undermined” when a judge is arrested.
“While the felony charges against Mr. Sherwood have not been adjudicated and he is entitled to the presumption of innocence, by resigning he spared the judiciary and the courts from the spectacle of a judge as criminal defendant,” Tembeckjian said.
William Dreyer of Dreyer Boyajian appeared for Sherwood in both the commission proceedings and Sherwood’s pending criminal matter. He declined to comment.