A private practice attorney from New City who has also represented local municipal governments in Rockland County has been charged with stealing $70,000 from medical malpractice clients, according to .
Joel Grossbarth, 50, of 29 Linden Court, New City, who was suspended from practicing law in November, is accused of second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing as a result of an investigation of dealings by Grossbarth in July 2010. Zugibe said he believes other clients of Grossbarth may have been swindled as well.
“The defendant in this case is accused of betraying his clients,” Zugibe said. “Having already been injured by the negligent acts of others, this unsuspecting couple was again victimized by their lawyer. This arrest should serve as a warning to unscrupulous professionals who seek to prey on their clients.”
Zugibe said Grossbarth, who worked out of a Stony Point law office, represented a couple in a medical malpractice case, in which the couple received a $70,000 check but did not want to settle the case for less than $350,000. Zugibe said the couple turned the check over to Grossbarth, who said he would return the check to the other parties in the lawsuit.
However, Grossbarth is accused of depositing the $70,000 into his own account and falsely filing an agreement and general release with the Rockland County Clerk’s Office in New City to settle the case — without the knowledge or agreement of the victims.
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.
“Though we have heard from several more alleged victims of this defendant, we believe additional individuals have been swindled,” Zugibe said. “We urge other clients or former clients who suspect they have been targeted to come forward and seek our help.”
Zugibe said Individuals who believe they have been similarly victimized by Grossbarth should contact his office at 845-638‐5001.
Grossbarth’s arrest resulted from an investigation conducted by the Rockland County Special Investigations Unit. He was arraigned in the Town of Clarkstown Town Court in New City by Judge Rolf Thorsen and released on $25,000 bail pending a March 5, 2012 hearing.
He is due to return to court on March 5, 2012.
Grossbarth faces up to 15 years in state prison, if convicted.