Crooked lawyer feasts on client settlements

By James Quiggle
December 23, 2015

Robert Rough lay on his death bed, ridden with cancer. He’d already lost his business when nerve damage from a car wreck cost him the full use of his hands.

Rough’s lawyer Stephen Krawitz had gotten him a $100,000 insurance settlement. Yet Rough never saw a dime. His Manhattan-based lawyer hid the money for three years until Rough died.

Krawitz stole $1.9 million of insurance settlements from nearly 50 trusting clients before being shut down with up to 12 years in federal prison. Most clients received no money, and some received a fraction.

Rough and his family had kept badgering him. The attorney already had stolen and spent most of the insurance money after forging Rough’s signature to paperwork. Then he kept delaying by sending the sick client to track down supposedly essential paperwork.

Live in fancy home

Krawitz finally said the money was in hand — just $35,000, he lied while living in a $2-million home and sending his kids to private schools.

Even that criminally lowballed amount didn’t matter when Rough died before he could use the money to make his ebbing life more comfortable.

He also stole from a 96-year-old great-grandmother who broke her shoulder when a car hit her. A 20-year-old Russian foreign exchange student was hospitalized for three months and needed brain surgery after a crash. Krawitz looted the fellow’s insurance settlement.

Many victims and relatives laughed derisively when he tried to explain himself to the court. “I’m not going to present excuses to you in the vein of my dog ate my homework ...” he said unconvincingly.

“I would like to apologize to my clients and friends who are here today. I betrayed their trust in me. I took advantage of the bond between attorney and client.”

Krawitz’s case should remind crash victims and other clients to work alertly with their lawyers to ensure they receive their full insurance settlements.

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