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Attorney Sentenced For Defrauding Elderly Clients Out Of Millions

U.S. District Court in Hartford.
U.S. District Court in Hartford. Photo Credit: File

A partner at a Connecticut law firm will spend time behind bars for cooking up a multi-million dollar scheme to steal from his elderly clients.

Robert Barry, 78, of Woodbury, a former partner in the law firm of Sturges and Mathes in Southbury, was sentenced to 21 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to wire fraud in September last year.

Barry was also ordered to spend the first six months of his supervised release in home confinement when he was sentenced in Hartford district court this week.

U.S. Attorney John Durham said that Sturges and Mathes specialized in trust and estates work, where Barry headed that practice. As part of his practice, Barry drafted trust agreements for clients designating himself as successor trustee in the event of a client’s death or incapacity. Barry also prepared wills for clients who named Barry as executor of his clients’ estates upon death.

Between June 2010 and December 2015, Barry entered into a scheme to defraud his elderly victims by stealing money from client trust accounts while they were alive and then taking more money from their estates after they died.

As the executor and successor trustee for his victims, Barry then directed staff members at the law firm to prepare checks drawn on the victims’ accounts payable to Sturges and Mathes’ operating account. Once the money was in the account, a second check was cut against the operating account to a special account which only Barry controlled.

Barry would then write himself checks from the special account to his own personal bank account. Though the scheme, Barry stole approximately $2.4 million from his victims.

In an effort to conceal the scheme, Barry also sent false and misleading statements to the victim and the victim’s beneficiaries about the allocation of assets.

Durham noted that in order to hide the money he had taken, Barry also caused a false federal tax return to be filed with the IRS. The tax return underreported approximately $937,000 in taxes.

In addition to his prison sentence, Barry was ordered to pay $2,440,285 in restitution to his victim’s estate, and $1,507,240 to residual beneficiaries of other estate clients. Barry, who was released on a $100,000 bond, was ordered to report to prison on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

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