Attorney Trust Release of Funds

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					                  NEWS RELEASE
                                    Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office
                                    71 Monument Park
                                    Freehold, New Jersey 07728
                                    732/ 431-7160
                                    Luis A. Valentin, Prosecutor




  FORMER RED BANK ATTORNEY SENTENCED TO SEVEN
  YEARS STATE PRISON FOR MISUSE OF CLIENTS’ FUNDS



       On November 13, 2009, Gary Edelson, 49, of Oakhurst, N.J., was sentenced to a
term of seven years in New Jersey State Prison for the second degree crime of
Misapplication of Entrusted Property. In addition, a civil judgment was entered requiring
Edelson to pay restitution to First American Title Insurance Company in the amount of
$48,805.57.

      The sentence was imposed by Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Anthony J.
Mellaci, Jr. Edelson previously entered a guilty plea to the charge before Judge Mellaci on
May 11, 2009, pursuant to a negotiated plea agreement with the Monmouth County
Prosecutor's Office.

        Edelson, formerly an attorney licensed in the State of New Jersey, operated a law
practice in Red Bank. The investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office
revealed that between August 2003 and November 2005, Edelson was retained by multiple
clients to represent them in various property transactions. In his capacity as attorney,
Edelson was required to collect certain fees and deposits to finalize the property sale,
deposit them into his attorney trust account, and then make disbursements. On several
occasions, however, Edelson retained the money collected into his trust account and utilized
those funds for personal expenses such as rent, medical insurance office expenses, and
taxes. The investigation revealed that Edelson misappropriated more than $300,000 in
trust funds in this manner.

       The investigation further revealed that Edelson was able to conceal his conduct by
creating a second set of checks that appeared to be business account checks but were
actually associated with his attorney trust account. For this reason, the recipients of the
checks were not able to discern that the funds were being distributed from an attorney
trust account. Furthermore, Edelson manipulated his internal accounting records in an
effort to disguise the misappropriation of his attorney trust account funds.

        Attorney trust accounts are closely regulated by the New Jersey Supreme Court and
specific guidelines for these trust accounts are outlined in the New Jersey Rules of Court.
The money deposited into an attorney trust account does not become property of the
attorney but is rather designated for a specific disbursement on behalf of the attorney’s
client. Any misappropriation of attorney client trust account funds is strictly prohibited.
Attorneys are subject to monitoring of their trust accounts by the New Jersey Office of
Attorney Ethics.

       In 2006, Edelson’s attorney trust account was frozen by the Office of Attorney
Ethics pursuant to an investigation by that office into his trust account. The funds
remaining within the trust account were transferred to the New Jersey Lawyers’ Fund for
Client Protection and used to provide reimbursement for Edelson’s victimized clients.
Later that same year, Edelson consented to his disbarment from the practice of law.

       Monmouth County Prosecutor Luis A. Valentin stated, "The purchase of a home is
often the most significant expense that a person engages in during his or her lifetime. As an
attorney, Edelson owed a fiduciary duty to his clients to act in their best interests in this
regard. Instead, he chose to ignore that duty and engaged in a calculated, criminal scheme
in order to misappropriate funds for his own self-interest. The substantial sentence
imposed today will hold Edelson accountable for his conduct. "

      This case was assigned to Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Nicole J. Colucci.
Edelson was represented by Richard Gilbert, Esquire, of Eatontown, N.J.


Released: November 13, 2009

				
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