Bill Tsoumpelis, 48, of Suffolk, charged with misappropriating more than $20K held in escrow for clients
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced the arrest today of an attorney practicing law in Mineola for stealing over $20,000 in escrow funds owed to a Queens couple.
Bill Tsoumpelis, 48, of St. James in Suffolk County, was arrested by DA investigators and charged with Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree (a D felony). Nassau District Court Judge Darlene Harris released the defendant on his own recognizance. If convicted, Tsoumpelis faces up to 2-1/3 years to seven years in prison. He is due back in court on March 23.
“Attorneys make an oath to uphold the law and to represent their clients to the best of their ability,” Acting DA Singas said. “Every client has the right to fair and honest legal representation, especially when it comes to transactions involving the chief financial asset for many New Yorkers – their home.”
According to prosecutors, a couple hired Bill Tsoumpelis, a Mineola-based attorney, to represent them in the sale of their Queens residence. On contract, the purchasers paid a down payment by check in the amount of $75,000 which was to be held in escrow by Tsoumpelis pending the closing of the sale. The check was deposited in Tsoumpelis’ Attorney Trust Account on July 8, 2014.
At the closing on Aug. 21, 2014, due to asbestos supposedly being found in the pipe installation, both parties agreed that a sum of $20,000 would be held in escrow by Tsoumpelis pending resolution of the issue.
Within a few days, the matter was resolved and the Queens sellers sought payment from Tsoumpelis of the funds owed to them. However, Tsoumpelis allegedly did not immediately make the payment, instead claiming that he intended to obtain a release from the purchaser’s attorney authorizing the payment, which was subsequently sent by the attorney informing Tsoumpelis that the escrow funds could be released.
Tsoumpelis then allegedly issued a check drawn on his law firm’s operating account rather than his escrow account in the amount of $21,932 payable to one of the Queens sellers. However, the check was incomplete as the amount was only stated in numerals, and not written out in words. Consequently, the sellers were informed by their bank that it would not accept the check for deposit.
Further efforts by the sellers to obtain payment from Tsoumpelis were not successful. In November 2014, the sellers filed a complaint with the Nassau County DA’s office, which then opened an investigation leading to Tsoumpelis’ arrest today by DA investigators.
Assistant District Attorney Marshall Trager, chief of Acting DA Singas’ Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau, is prosecuting the case. Tsoumpelis is represented by Legal Aid Society of Nassau County.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.