A disbarred Murray Hill lawyer on Dec. 1 pleaded guilty to defrauding his clients in Brooklyn federal court.
Hyun W. Lee, 51, also known as “Michael Lee,” of Closter, New Jersey, was accused of stealing millions of dollars from his clients in real estate transactions while operating at his law office at 163-07 Depot Rd. in Murray Hill. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud in connection with a scheme to defraud his real estate clients and their counterparties of funds held in his attorney escrow account.
According to court filings and facts presented during the plea proceeding, Lee induced clients and counterparties to entrust funds to him for the purchase of real estate based on misrepresentations that Lee would release the funds deposited into his escrow account. Instead, Lee misappropriated these funds and used them for his own benefit, which included gambling at casinos and expenses at a restaurant that he partially owned.
Lee also misrepresented that he was an attorney authorized to represent clients, including in connection with the purchase and sale of real estate, and to receive and hold funds in his escrow account in connection with real estate transactions. In reality, Lee had been suspended and was subsequently disbarred from engaging in the practice of law in the State of New York. As a result, Lee was not permitted to accept funds from clients and third parties.