A lawyer from New City already suspended for misconduct and charged with stealing $70,000 from clients has been hit with new charges that push the amount he is accused of illegally taking to nearly $400,000.
And, investigators fear the amount stolen may turn out to be close to $1 million.
said on Friday that Joel Grossbarth, 50, of 29 Linden Court, New City, is charged with two more counts of second-degree grand larceny. Grossbarth, who practiced out of a Stony Point law office and also represented several Rockland County municipalities, was arrested in December 2011 on charges that he stole $70,000 from clients.
The new charges contend Grossbarth took $118,000 of client money in November 2008 and then took $280,000 in February 2010. In all three incidents, Zugibe said Grossbarth had secretly settled legal disputes, but his clients thought their cases were still pending in court. Settlement money was paid out, but deposited into Grossbarth's personal account, according to the charges.
"This defendant is alleged to have once again scammed unsuspecting clients to steal a substantial amount of money," Zugibe said. "Today's re-arrest will keep this scam artist from making a mockery of justice. Additionally, the public must be warned that the defendant is suspended from practicing law and must be avoided."
Zugibe said the ongoing investigation has led his office to believe Grossbarth has stolen nearly $1 million from clients he has represented in different court cases.
"We urge other clients or former clients who suspect they have been targeted to come forward and seek our help," Zugibe said. "This defendant's alleged crimes are particularly egregious and will be vigorously prosecuted."
Grossbarth has been free on $25,000 bail since his arrest in December. He was arraigned on the new charges in Clarkstown Town Court in New City and released on continued bail until a March 5 hearing. If convicted, Zugibe said Grossbarth faces up to 15 years in prison.
Investigators say that anyone who believes they may have been victimized by Grossbarth can contact them at 845-638-5001.
Grossbarth, admitted to the bar in 1994, has served as a village attorney in Rockland County for municipalities including Sloatsburg, Airmont and New Hempstead. On Nov. 2, a ruling was issued in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court suspending him from the practice of law based on a finding by the Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District — a panel that handles disciplinary matters against attorneys.
The Grievance Committee finding was based on a review of complaint from a Grossbarth client over the handling of his funds held by Grossbarth.
Grossbarth’s arrest resulted from an investigation conducted by the Rockland County Special Investigations Unit.