SOUTHBURY Attorney stole $2.4 million from elderly clients
SOUTHBURY — A Local attorney faces up to 20 years in a federal prison after pleading guilty Wednesday to defrauding elderly clients out of more than $2.4 million.
Robert Barry, 77, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of wire fraud related to his theft from elderly client trust accounts.
Barry was an attorney with Sturges and Mathes with an office near Heritage Village, a large age-restricted development in the center of Southbury.
Authorities said Barry began defrauding his clients more than 10 years ago by stealing money from client’s trust accounts while they were alive and from their estates after their death.
Barry, authorities said, would direct staff members at the law firm to prepare checks drawn on the victim’s accounts payable to a Sturges and Mathes operating account that only he had access to. Barry then wrote checks to himself from the special account.
As part of the scheme, Barry also sent false and misleading statements to his victim’s and their relatives upon their death. At one point, authorities said, Barry told relatives that one estate was valued at about $8 million when the actual value of the estate was in excess of $9 million.
Barry had more than 70 existing clients in the Southbury probate court district alone when federal authorities began investigating his actions about three years ago, according to the court filings.
Connecticut’s Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel sought a suspension of Barry’s law license three years ago when the investigation began.
The attorney still has dozens of clients in the area and “access to untold monies,” according to a filing by the counsel. The filing added that Barry, posed a “substantial threat of irreparable harm to his current and prospective clients.”
Local officials also voiced their concerns at the time of the investigation noting that Barry’s office was located in Heritage Village, a development with nearly 2,500 age-restricted apartments.
A community resource police officer is stationed at the village at least five days a week to help identify scams and prevent local residents from becoming victims.
Barry was released on a $100,000 bond pending his sentencing. He is facing up to 20 years in prison when sentenced Dec. 4 before U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny.