A former Capital Region town justice and lawyer pleaded guilty on Monday to working with a financial adviser to bilk about $11.8 million from trust funds that they were responsible for overseeing.
Former Town of Guilderland Justice Richard Sherwood agreed to resign from the bench in April, pleaded guilty to federal money laundering and tax crime charges and a state charge second-degree grand larceny, a class C felony, according to news releases from the New York Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
He faces between three and 10 years in prison on the state charge and up to 20 years in prison on the federal charges, the releases stated.
Sherwood spent 14 years as Guilderland’s town attorney before he was elected to the bench in 2013. His judicial position was part time and he was also a partner at Mazzotta & Vagianelis.
According to court papers, Sherwood 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 the U.S. attorney’s release, Sherwood admitted that, after Bruggeman’s wife died in 2011, he conspired to steal money from her estate, valued at some $20 million.
“New Yorkers should be able to trust that their financial advisors will make sound decisions—not scheme to line their own pockets,” said New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in a news release. “We will continue to hold accountable those that try to game the system and violate the public trust.”
William Dreyer of Dreyer Boyajian represents Sherwood. He declined to comment on the case.
Sherwood is scheduled to be sentenced for his state charge on Aug. 6 and will be sentenced for his federal charges on Oct. 11.