A jury convicted a former Queens businessman for the second time Thursday of posing as an attorney and misleading investors, netting $5 million from seven people between 2000 and 2005.
Mohammed Rafikian, 54, had been the chairman and chief executive officer of First Investors Capital Corporation in Astoria. He also worked for the law firm Marcus & Associates as a paralegal, using the identity of the named partner, who was out sick, to practice law. Clients and customers paid him amounts ranging from $63,000 to $3.2 million, expecting him to invest it or complete real estate transactions on their behalf.
His risky trades ran up negative balances of $5 million, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement, prompting him to pose as a lawyer to garner business that would cover his losses.
Rafikian has been in jail since his arrest in May 2004. He was originally found guilty by a jury at a 2007 trial where he proceeded pro se, then appealed. In 2012, the Appellate Division, Second Department, found he was entitled to a new trial because he had not been advised “of the importance of the role of the attorney in the adversarial system, nor as to the ‘dangers and disadvantages’ of self-representation,” People v. Rafikian, 2012 NY Slip Op 06319.
In a two-month retrial before Queens Supreme Court Justice Daniel Lewis, Rafikian was found guilty of one count of first-degree larceny, seven counts of second-degree grand-larceny, three counts of first-degree scheme to defraud and three counts of practicing law without a license. He faces up to 50 years in prison, the sentence he received after his first trial.
Rafikian was represented by Frank Kelly and Steven Goldenberg. Prosecutors were Queens senior assistant district attorneys Lisa Cubair and Neil Gitin with the office’s narcotics investigations bureau.