Attorney General James and Acting State Police Superintendent Nigrelli Announce Sentencing of Disbarred Attorney Who Embezzled from Vulnerable New Yorkers
John Ferdinand Murphy Sentenced to 4 to 12 Years in Prison for Defrauding Individuals He Was Entrusted to Protect
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Acting New York State Police Superintendent Steven A. Nigrelli today announced the sentencing of John Ferdinand Murphy, III, 68, of Hopewell Junction, NY for embezzling more than $450,000 from multiple incapacitated and vulnerable individuals. After being appointed as a guardian and trustee, Murphy drained their trust accounts and issued checks to himself, his company, and his family members. Murphy previously pled guilty in March to one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (class C felony) and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree (class E felony). He was sentenced today before Judge Edward McLoughlin to 4 to 12 years in state prison.
“New York has a system in place to protect the interests of our most vulnerable residents, and John Murphy abused it to enrich himself,” said Attorney General James. “Despite being entrusted by the law to protect New Yorkers who were unable to manage their own finances, John Murphy stole from them and violated their trust. This shameful misconduct harmed New Yorkers in need, and thankfully the perpetrator has been brought to justice and will face the consequences of his crimes.”
“I commend the work performed on this case by our State Police members and our partners at the Attorney General’s office that has led to this sentencing,” said Acting Superintendent Nigrelli. “Mr. Murphy had absolutely no regard for his victims or their well-being, instead he took advantage of them when they depended on his support and advocacy. This case serves as a reminder that those who prey on vulnerable and disabled individuals, especially when they are in a place of trust, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent.”
As outlined in the indictment, for nearly seven years Murphy abused his position as an attorney and took advantage of vulnerable and disabled individuals, including those for whom he was appointed to serve as guardian or trustee. In his role as a court-appointed guardian and trustee for incapacitated individuals, Murphy issued more than $350,000 in checks from their accounts for his own use. In one situation, while serving as trustee for an 89-year-old family friend, Murphy stole more than $80,000 and failed to pay the victim’s tax and utility bills, resulting in the client’s utilities being shut off on multiple occasions and 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 bank account. The home was never conveyed to the seller, and Murphy kept the down payment money. However, with the assistance of the New York City Justice Center, the victim has been able to remain in her home.
Murphy was arraigned in December 2022 and charged for the thefts he committed from June 26, 2015 to December 29, 2021. He was suspended from practicing law in August 2021 and disbarred in December of that year. In addition to sentencing Murphy to 4 to 12 years in state prison, the court ordered judgments totaling more than $450,000 in favor of the victims.
Attorney General James thanks the New York State Police’s Financial Crimes Unit, the Office of Court Administration Inspector General, the New York City Justice Center, and the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office 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 former Legal Analyst Stephanie Lee, under the supervision of Supervising Analyst Paul Strocko and Deputy Supervising Analyst Jayleen Garcia. Forensic accounting was performed by Detective Investigator Eamon Murphy, under the supervision of 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.