Former Mass. Lawyer Found Guilty of Stealing $186K From Clients

June 19, 2012

A former Greenfield, Massachusetts, attorney was convicted Monday in connection with stealing over $186,000 from an elderly couple he represented in a personal injury settlement involving an auto accident, according to state officials.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office said a Franklin Superior Court jury found defendant Edward Pepyne, Jr. guilty of the charge of larceny over $250 of a person over 60 years of age.

“This defendant abused his position as an attorney to manipulate and steal from an elderly couple,” Coakley said. “We will continue to hold accountable those who take advantage of vulnerable citizens for their own benefit.”

In May 2011, Attorney General Coakley’s office began an investigation after the matter was referred by the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office. Pepyne worked as an attorney specializing in personal injury cases.

In 2006, authorities believe Pepyne targeted an elderly husband and wife that had been in a serious automobile accident and offered to represent them in their personal injury claim. Investigators discovered that Pepyne and the elderly husband had known each other prior to the accident, and Pepyne used this relationship to offer his services as an attorney.

Pepyne entered into an agreement that allowed him to keep one third of the funds he recovered for his clients in the personal injury claim. Pepyne settled his clients’ case prior to litigation and he eventually deposited the settlement funds into his business account he had at a local bank.

Investigation revealed that instead of giving his clients the settlement proceeds they were owed, Pepyne lied to the couple and told them that he had to keep more than one third of the money he recovered on their behalf to pay for outstanding medical expenses. Investigators discovered that in reality no outstanding medical expenses existed.

As a result of his scheme, Pepyne withheld more than $186,000 from his elderly clients and used those stolen funds for his personal use. Pepyne was later disbarred from practicing law in February 2010 after his activities were reported to the Office of Bar Counsel.

A Franklin County Grand Jury returned the indictment against Pepyne in June 2011. And this week, a Franklin Superior Court jury found him guilty of the charge. He will be sentenced on June 29.

Source: Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office

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