A prominent Westchester attorney known for representing prominent Republican politicians has admitted to embezzling from the estate of a dead man.
Rye resident Guy Parisi, 71, pleaded guilty on Thursday in White Plains federal court to one count of mail fraud for stealing from the estate of a former Mount Vernon resident.
Parisi was appointed the administrator of the estate in April 2017, where he was tasked with collecting the assets of the estate. As an administrator, Parisi had a fiduciary duty to the estate and to the decedent’s son, who was the sole beneficiary of his father’s will.
According to U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, New York law provided for a fee for estate administrators such as Parisi based on a percentage of the value of the estate’s assets.
Berman said that “a substantial part of the estate’s assets escheated to the State of New York as abandoned property between 2000 and 2008, when the estate was first presented to the Surrogate’s Court.” These assets were held in the custody of the New York State Comptroller.
On behalf of the state in June 2017, Parisi retained Stokes Asset Recovery Services as the estate’s abandoned property location service in exchange for a fee of 15 percent of the value of the estate’s assets held by the Comptroller, the highest fee allowed in the state. Parisi failed to disclosed and actively concealed the fact that Stokes was owned by a relative.
Parisi admitted that he and the relative had formed Stokes less than two weeks before he notified the Comptroller of his retention of Stokes, as he was required to do under New York law. Berman noted that Parisi and the relative named Stokes after a Southampton street on which Parisi owned a waterfront vacation home. At the time he retained Stokes, Parisi knew that the estate’s assets held by the Comptroller were worth several million dollars.
Parisi was interviewed by a postal inspector in November 2017. He falsely told the postal inspector that he had worked with Stokes in the past and that Stokes’s fee was 5 percent of the value of the assets held by the comptroller.
“As he admitted today, Guy Parisi, a Westchester attorney, flouted his fiduciary duty to the estate for which he was administrator,” Berman said. “He attempted to direct fees from the estate to a company he himself formed with a relative. Now Parisi awaits sentencing for his crime.”
Parisi is scheduled to be sentenced on May 29, when he will face a maximum term of up to 20 years in prison.
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