April 8, 2022 By Michael Dorgan and Allie Griffin
A disbarred Bayside lawyer was sentenced to prison Wednesday for bilking dozens of clients out of more than $1.8 million over a 5-year period.
Yohan Choi, who ran a law practice on Northern Boulevard in Flushing, was sentenced to 1 1/2 to 4 1/2 years in prison for failing to hand over thousands of dollars to approximately 50 clients who he successfully represented in personal injury cases.
“This defendant took an oath to uphold the law,” said Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz. “Unfortunately, he let his own interest guide him instead of his fiduciary duty to represent his clients… who had already suffered.”
According to the charges, Choi, 47, won dozens of settlements between 2015 and 2020 but his clients never saw a penny.
For instance, Choi reached a $52,000 settlement for a client in November 2016 but failed to hand over any of the proceeds. The woman was entitled to $35,000—after legal fees—but got nothing.
The following year, in November 2017, Choi lost his license to practice law. However, he still continued to swindle cash from clients, according to the charges.
Choi reached a $75,000 settlement in a different lawsuit in May 2018 and should have forwarded $50,000 to his client. He failed to provide his client with any of the money.
A man who hired Choi after he was disbarred never saw the $30,150 he was due from a May 2020 settlement. Choi received a check from an insurance company on behalf of the client for $45,000 and kept it all for himself, according to the charges.
He stole funds from many clients varying from as little as $1,000 to more than $50,000, according to charges. At the time of his plea, he signed 28 confessions of judgment to repay the money to his victims.
Choi pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the fourth degree in Queens criminal court on Jan. 31.