The former court-appointed administrator of a Westchester estate has admitted to stealing more than a million dollars from it as a family member sought to remove him from the position.
New Jersey resident Gregory Bayard has pleaded guilty in White Plains federal court to one count of wire fraud for stealing $1.4 million from a decedent’s estate in Mount Vernon while acting as a court-appointed administrator.
Bayard was appointed the administrator of the estate of a former Mount Vernon resident by the Surrogate’s Court in 2008, which included collecting the assets of the estate. As the administrator, Bayard had a fiduciary duty to the estate and to the decedent’s son, the sole beneficiary of his father’s will. According to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, “New York law provides, for a fee, estate administrators like Bayard based on a percentage of the value of the estate’s assets.”
In 2009, the decedent’s son filed a motion in Surrogate’s Court to remove Bayard as the administrator of his father’s estate. While that motion was pending, Bayard admitted to embezzling more than $1.4 million from the estate's bank account.
From June 2011 through June the following year, Bayard wrote 14 checks for more than $435,000 from the account to himself. From December 2012 through May 2016, he caused more than 70 electronic wire transfers of a total of more than $1 million from the estate’s account to his personal account. The money was then spent on home renovations, college tuition and other personal expenses. Some of the stolen money was also transferred to family members.
When he is sentenced, Bayard, 58, of Scotch Plains, will face up to 20 years in prison. No sentencing date has been announced.
"As a fiduciary of an estate, Gregory Bayard’s duty was to protect the assets of the decedent and ensure that the rightful beneficiaries receive their inheritance. Instead, Bayard violated his obligation and used the estate for his own use, spending nearly more than $1 million of the estate’s money on home renovations, college tuition, and other personal expenses," Berman said. "Bayard now faces significant prison time for his crimes.”
USPIS Inspector-in-Charge Philip R. Bartlett added, “instead of being satisfied with the fees the law prescribed as an estate administrator, Gregory Bayard decided to steal from the fund he was hired to manage to bankroll his lavish lifestyle. This case highlights the need for proper checks and balances to mitigate the risk of theft. Inspectors caught this entrusted administrator with his hand in the cookie jar.”
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