Attorney General James and Acting State Police Superintendent Nigrelli Announce Arrest of Disbarred Attorney Who Allegedly Embezzled Over $450,000 from Vulnerable and Elderly New Yorkers
John Ferdinand Murphy, III Faces Up to 20 Years in Prison
for Defrauding Individuals That He Had a Fiduciary Duty to Protect
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Acting New York State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli today announced the indictment and arrest of former attorney John Ferdinand Murphy, III, 68, of Hopewell Junction, NY, for allegedly embezzling more than $450,000 from multiple incapacitated and vulnerable individuals. After being appointed as a guardian and trustee for individuals, Murphy allegedly drained their trust accounts by issuing checks to himself, his company Samron Resources, LLC, and his own family members. Murphy was charged today with three counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a class C felony), two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree (a class D felony), and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (a class E felony) for the thefts he allegedly committed from June 26, 2015 to December 29, 2021.
“Taking advantage of our vulnerable communities is disgraceful and absolutely unacceptable,” said Attorney General James. “The individual indicted today shamelessly embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from individuals that the law trusted him to protect. I thank the New York State Police and Acting Superintendent Nigrelli for their coordination in the effort to uncover and end this criminal activity. My office will continue to protect New York’s most vulnerable residents, and we will fight tirelessly to bring bad actors to justice.”
“I applaud the exceptional work conducted by our state police members, the Attorney General’s Office, the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office, the Office of Court Administration Inspector General, and the New York City Justice Center that has resulted in the arrest of Mr. Murphy,” said Acting Superintendent Nigrelli. “This individual selfishly used his position to take advantage of elderly, vulnerable, and unsuspecting New Yorkers and their families who put their trust in him to take care of their finances and loved ones. The New York State Police and our law enforcement partners will continue to put those like Mr. Murphy behind bars to protect innocent victims from being taken advantage of.”
According to court filings and statements, Murphy abused his position as an attorney over the course of nearly seven years by taking advantage of vulnerable and disabled people, including those for whom he was appointed to act as guardian or trustee. In his role as a court-appointed guardian and trustee for incapacitated individuals and their special needs trusts, Murphy allegedly issued more than $350,000 in checks for his own use.
Additionally, while acting as trustee for a family friend who is an 89-year-old retiree, Murphy stole more than $80,000 and failed to pay the victim’s tax and utility bills. Murphy’s failure to pay the victim’s expenses caused her utilities to be shut off on multiple occasions, and even resulted in a foreclosure proceeding on her home. In an attempt to conceal the foreclosure, Murphy sought a seller for the home and collected a $10,000 down payment, which he then deposited into his own account. The home was never conveyed to the seller and Murphy did not return the down payment. However, with the assistance of the New York City Justice Center, the victim has been able to remain in her home.
Murphy was suspended from practicing law in August 2021 and disbarred in December 2021. He was arraigned today before the Honorable Edward McLoughlin and released with electronic monitoring.
The charges are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
Attorney General James thanks the New York State Police’s Financial Crimes Unit, the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office, the Office of Court Administration Inspector General, and the New York City Justice Center for their assistance.
This case is being prosecuted by Senior Counsel Maureen Grosdidier and Assistant Attorney General/Director of the Combatting Upstate Financial Frauds Scheme Initiative General Philip V. Apruzzese of the Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau (CEFC). Analytical work was provided by Legal Analyst Stephanie Lee, under the supervision of Supervising Analyst Paul Strocko and Deputy Supervising Analyst Jayleen Garcia. Forensic accounting was performed by Forensic Auditor Investigator Eamon Murphy, under the supervision of Chief Auditor Kristen Fabbri and Deputy Chief Auditor Sandy Bizzarro of the Forensic Audit Section. CEFC is led by Bureau Chief Stephanie Swenton and Deputy Bureau Chief Joseph G. D’Arrigo.
The criminal investigation was conducted by Detective Dennis Churns, under the supervision of Assistant Chief Samuel Scotellaro and Deputy Chief Juanita Bright of the Major Investigations Unit. The Investigations Bureau is led by Chief Investigator Oliver Pu-Folkes. Both CEFC and the Investigations Bureau are part of the Division for Criminal Justice, which is led by Chief Deputy Attorney General Jose Maldonado and overseen by First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.