Barbara Maleno faces up to 5 to 15 years in prison
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced that a Mastic lawyer was arrested today for allegedly stealing more than $120,000 from her client between April 2011 and January 2015.
Barbara Maleno, 55, of Mastic, was arraigned today before District Court Judge Paul Meli and charged with Grand Larceny in the 2nd Degree (a C felony). The defendant was released on her own recognizance, ordered to surrender her passport and is due back in court on June 26. Maleno faces up to 5 to 15 years in prison if convicted.
“Attorneys are ethically bound to act in the best interest of their client, but this defendant betrayed that trust when she allegedly stole more than $120,000 from a client who was going through a divorce,” said DA Singas. “We will aggressively prosecute this case and seek restitution for the victim.”
DA Singas said that in March 2009, the victim signed a retainer with Maleno for the defendant to represent her in connection with a matrimonial action. The victim allegedly paid Maleno, who has an office in Woodbury, a retainer fee of $1,500 and $500 to cover court costs. The attorney allegedly then told the victim that there would be no additional costs or fees associated with Maleno’s representation as she was working on the case pro bono.
Two separate checks, as part of the matrimonial case, were allegedly paid to the defendant on behalf of the victim in the amounts of approximately $84,543 in April 2011 and $81,068 in September 2011.
About two and half years later, in March 2014, the victim contacted Maleno to request her divorce settlement funds of approximately $165,611, but Maleno allegedly did not comply.
The defendant allegedly wrote numerous checks from her escrow account, without any memo notation and the checks were deposited into another account belonging to the defendant. By January 2015 the account allegedly had a balance of $2.29.
The attorney claims that she is entitled to a fee of $44,722 for her work on the case.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of a crime is encouraged to call the NCDA Tip Line at (516) 571-7755.
Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Contreras of DA Singas’ Government and Consumer Frauds Bureau is prosecuting the case. Maleno is represented by John Juliano, Esq.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.