A Delaware County attorney has been arrested and charged with attempted bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has announced.
In an indictment unsealed Friday, Dory Sater, 44, of Drexel Hill was accused of defrauding Fidelity Bank in Scranton by filing a fraudulent satisfaction piece for a $50,000 mortgage. U.S. Attorney David Freed of the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleged that Sater used someone else’s identification to accomplish the fraud.
Elliot Smith, Sater’s public defender, said, “Mr. Sater is presumed innocent, contests the charges—which are only allegations—and he looks forward to exercising his right to a jury trial.”
The indictment comes six months after Sater’s law license was suspended for allegedly misappropriating client funds.
In an October order of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the court held, “it has been found that [Sater's] continued practice of law is causing immediate and substantial public or private harm.”
At the time of his suspension, Sater told The Legal that he intended to clear his name and denied any wrongdoing.
“The worst thing I’m guilty of is poor record-keeping or bookkeeping,” Sater said.
According to an opinion by the Pennsylvania Office of Disciplinary Counsel, an investigation of Sater, when it began, centered on $275,000 he deposited into an IOLTA account in connection with an arbitration award, and a complaint by attorney John Lord regarding how Sater handled a contested fee in a separate case.
Beginning in November 2016, the ODC said, Sater stopped responding to the ODC’s requests for information regarding those and other allegations against him, including allegations that he had converted client funds.
And in February 2017, the opinion said, the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security noticed that the balance in Sater’s IOLTA account was negative.
In August, the ODC emailed Sater to notify him that he faced temporary suspension if he did not submit required records by Aug. 30, the opinion said. Sater acknowledged that notification Aug. 20, the opinion said, but did not submit any records or have any other communication with the ODC after that.
Sater was sued in 2017 by the law firm where he worked as an associate from 2009 to 2014, Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith. The firm alleged that he had failed to pay referral fees in connection to cases he took with him when he left to start his own firm.
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Ramy Djerassi entered default judgment in the Haggerty Goldberg case late 2017 because Sater failed to file an answer. According to court records, Djerassi ordered Sater to pay Haggerty Goldberg $48,500.
Fees for Haggerty Goldberg were referenced a number of times within the ODC’s complaint, as Sater’s explanation for money held or paid.
Sater was also sued by local firm Silvers, Langsam & Weitzman in 2015, for failing to pay the firm agreed-upon fees and costs after a personal injury client, Regina Donnelly, took her case from Silvers Langsam to Sater’s firm. According to the ODC’s petition, Sater allegedly failed to keep $20,000 of contested money from Donnelly’s settlement separate until his dispute with Silvers Langsam resolved.
At one point, the judge in that case entered default judgment against Sater and Donnelly, who was also a defendant, for failing to file answers. Sater was able to have the judgment reopened and the case was scheduled for trial.
Sater and Silvers Langsam did ultimately reach a settlement just before trial, according to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. But Silvers Langsam attorney Lord advised the Disciplinary Board of the situation, the ODC’s opinion said.