Elder law attorney accused of stealing from clients and estates takes plea, will forfeit $3M
A New Jersey attorney known for her elder law expertise has pleaded guilty to money laundering.concerning a scheme that allegedly stripped senior clients and some of their estates of millions of dollars.
Barbara Lieberman, 62, also agreed to give up her law license, some $3 million in frozen assets and a BMW in her Monday plea in the Atlantic County Superior Court case, New Jersey Lawyer (sub. req.) and the Philadelphia Inquirer report.
The state attorney general’s office agreed to recommend a 10-year prison term when she is sentenced in February, meaning that Lieberman could serve less than four years.
Prosecutors said Lieberman, in collaboration with individuals at a senior life care company run by a former social worker, used fake powers of attorney, among other fraudulent means, to steal from clients who often had no close family members to intervene. All told, victims were bilked of millions between 2006 and 2013, the government contended.
As Lieberman put her name on client bank accounts, wrote checks for her own personal expenses, transferred assets into her law firm’s accounts, helped clients draft wills and then stole more while serving as executrix, suspicion was averted, in the short run, by funding the clients’ immediate living expenses while waiting for them to die, according to the attorney general’s office.
At one point, prosecutors said, Lieberman and a co-defendant, former social worker Jan Van Holt, 58, who operated senior care company A Better Choice, took out a $195,000 reverse mortgage on a 94-year-old’s home, the New Jersey Law Journal reports.
Criminal cases continue against Van Holt, another principal in A Better Choice and a worker there.
ABAJournal.com: “Elder law attorney charged in $2M theft, accused of helping senior care company owner strip clients”