A disbarred adoption lawyer from Bucks County is facing 18 months in prison for running a Ponzi scheme in which he accepted retainer fees from clients then pocketed the money, authorities said.
Steven G. Dubin, 66, of Holland had clients pay him retainer fees that he told them would be held in escrow accounts for future expenses during the adoption process between December 2010 and February 2013, according to Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams.
Instead, Dubin pocketed the money, often paying himself for legal fees or expenses relating to other clients, Williams said. Dubin continued to accept new retainer fees from clients even after he was disbarred as an attorney in 2012, the U.S. attorney said.
In some cases, Dubin still represented himself as a licensed attorney, Williams said.
In June 2018, Dubin pleaded guilty to wire fraud, Williams said.
“The process of adopting a child can be long, complicated, and emotionally draining, and prospective parents often rely on professionals like adoption attorneys to navigate the bureaucratic hurdles,” said Williams.
“Here, Steven Dubin took advantage of this position of trust to steal money from unsuspecting clients who thought he was going to help them adopt a child, even after being disbarred. His behavior is a despicable violation of professional ethics.”
“Steven Dubin had no compunction about lying to his clients, doing so deliberately and repeatedly,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division.
“These people were depending on him to shepherd them through the adoption process and hopefully bring a child into their lives. Instead, he spent their money as his own and hid his eventual disbarment, abandoning all pretense of professional ethics and personal morality. Finally, he’s being held accountable for those years of clear-cut fraud.”
Dubin was sentenced to 18 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $74,800 restitution by United States District Court Judge Gene E.K. Pratter.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vineet Gauri.
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