Wilton attorney charged for stealing from client

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WILTON, NY – Saratoga County District Attorney Karen A. Heggen announced today that Ellen K. Zwijacz (DOB 6-25-78) of Wilton, NY was sentenced before Saratoga County Court Judge James A. Murphy, III, to 364 days in the Saratoga County Correctional Facility for her November 1, 2021 guilty plea to one (1) count of the Class “C” Felony of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, in violation of New York State Penal Law Section 155.40(1).  The charges stemmed from the taking of funds belonging to her client and client’s estate beginning in March of 2013 and continuing through July 2018.  Zwijacz entered her plea understanding that sentencing could be within the range of 6 months incarceration with 5 years of probation up to 1 to 3 years in state prison if she paid over $860,000 at or before the time of her sentencing and surrendered her license to practice law.

Defendant Zwijacz admitted at her November 1, 2021 plea allocution to transferring control of the victim client’s funds without the knowledge of her client using fraudulent legal documents.  Zwijacz also submitted documents to an insurance company to change address and beneficiary information on life insurance policies so that she received any correspondence and the benefits.  The defendant also used her position as attorney for the client’s estate to file inaccurate probate documents aimed at concealing the theft.      

District Attorney Heggen stated, “Law enforcement were able to investigate this case thoroughly through the use of bank records and insurance documents that painted a picture of years of fraudulent activity.  The defendant was a trusted advisor and friend to the victim and used both her position as attorney and her personal relationship with the victim to defraud the victim.  I am very pleased this conviction holds the defendant responsible, and because of the felony conviction, will no longer have a license to practice law.  The restitution of $ 864,581.46 was voluntarily paid in full by a third party on behalf of the defendant prior to sentencing today.    This case should be an example to those working in fiduciary relationships that if they exploit that trusted relationship for their own personal gain, there will be severe consequences.”  Heggen praised the work of the New York State Police Financial Crimes Unit for their thorough investigation.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Sarah J. Leszczynski.  The defendant was represented by Julie A. Nociolo.