WHITE PLAINS, NY (September 6, 2022) — Laurieanne Delitta, 51, of Briarcliff Manor, was a disbarred attorney based in Armonk, NY. She embezzled money from children with Cerebral Palsy was sentenced today to an indeterminate sentence of 1 to 3 years in state prison by a clearly displeased Judge Anne E. Minihan in Westchester County Criminal Court.
Delitta is now prisoner 270601. She will spend her first night of incarceration tonight at the Westchester County Jail in Valhalla, NY.
UPDATE 9/14/22: Delitta has been transferred to the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility where is now prisoner 22G0468.
Judge Minihan said she only just came to the case today and indicated she would not have agreed to such a light sentence for Delitta given the scope and nature of her crimes.
Delitta pleaded guilty on May 24, 2022, to eight counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree — the two counts of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession were covered under the eight felonies— under a plea agreement ordered by Judge Barry E. Warhit over what ADA Gorrie told Judge Minihan were the strenuous objections of the People.
She stole $3,711,499 from eight individuals and estates. She diverted the proceeds generated from the sale of her clients’ assets into her personal bank accounts.
The Court also ordered DeLitta to pay full restitution to her victims.
Judge Minihan listened intently as four people delivered powerful victim impact statements (see below).
Delitta — who sobbed and shook throughout the proceedings, often leaning against Steven Scott Siegel, her attorney— was then granted leave to address the court. In her remarks, she failed to take accountability for her five-year spree, looting friends and family which included a 93-year-old woman facing removal from a nursing home because her trust fund was plundered, to several children, some now adults, with Cerebral Palsy.
“I’m sorry your honor. I just want to say that all of these people who are here today are people who in some capacity or another I care very much for and I am so sorry that I abused their trust and I know it’s inexcusable and there’s no no reason. I. It was just too much responsibility and something happened and everything got out of hand and I would never want to hurt them. I told them lies because I wanted to fix it and I wanted to make it true. As I know that probably nobody believes me. I will spend every waking moment of the rest of my life to make it up to these people the best that I can. And I’m sorry to your honor, to Mr. Corrie and to Mr. Siegel and the Court and my colleagues for embarrassing the profession and I’m sorry to my family and I don’t have any other words to say but I’m just so sorry. I am so sorry. I regret everything that I did to them and I’m sorry.”
The dozen victims in the courtroom room were openly contemptuous of her statement.
Judge Minihan tore into Delitta:
“Here’s the thing. You can’t do you can’t make it up. Right even if you were to pay back every single cent with interest. You can’t get that back. That’s the thing with trust. And it’s not as if any of these people opened up a phonebook and chose the name of a lawyer at random and decided that they were going to trust that person with all kinds of things that were near and dear to not only their hearts, but but to people that they were in charge of taking care of. You understand that right? I understand that that in our profession, you should be able to open a phone choose the name at random have an attorney on the rolls, and trust that person. But they didn’t even do that. They went to somebody they trusted to do right by them. And so even if you were able to pay back every single cent, you can’t undo what’s been done. I would find it very hard to believe that any of those people will ever go to a lawyer and be able to trust that person again. In the same way that you know, we need doctors we need lawyers in life. So now you have people feel like they’re never going to be treated right again. You understand that? Right? So it’s not just you and it’s not just them. It’s the entire profession. It’s built on trust. It’s built on reputation. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Forever. I mean, when you talk about people who have built a life and saved and saved and saved and in the end, what do they have? They have a house that they’re going to expect that the proceeds from that sale are going to go to their children. They have an infant compromise where they have some trust or whatever. That’s what it’s for. They trusted you and you took that money so now it looks like they didn’t take good care of their people. How are they supposed to know? they trusted you. They knew you know, nothing, nothing makes it better. Nothing makes it better.”
Judge Minihan addressed the victims and their families:
“I heard you speak and I do understand that there is no amount of you know state prison there’s nothing that will make you whole. This is not a situation where you can be made whole. I do understand that. It’s an imperfect system. This was a negotiated disposition. And this is the first that I’m coming into it. And I’m going to impose the sentence that was promised to you but make no mistake, that this is not just… this isn’t money, money is money. And that, you know, this is this is victimization. And because it happened gradually, and maybe it seemed that you were able to somehow distance yourself from what you were doing doesn’t change that at all.”
Judge Minihan pronounced sentence:
“On May the 24th 2022 you enter pleas of guilty to eight counts of grand larceny and the second degree counts one count to count three, count four, count five, count six, count seven and count eight all of which are Class C nonviolent felonies as part of a negotiated disposition. And I’m going to impose a sentence that was promised to you. As to each of these eight counts. I oppose an indeterminate term of incarceration of one to three years in state prison. The restitution, judgment orders that were put on the record previously will be signed by me and will be in effect. There’s also a $325 surcharge and a $50 DNA fee. Now you waived your right to appeal as part of this negotiated disposition. You didn’t actually give up your rights to appeal and your attorney is going to remain your attorney for the next 30 days for the purposes of filing a notice. Notice of Appeal, if that’s something that you choose to do. And you’ll leave here today with written notice of your appellate rights. Is there anything else we need to say? Because they run concurrently to each other that was that was what the press front the sentence of us okay. All right. Ms. Delitta, you’re remanded.”
When Delitta was put in handcuffs shortly at about 11:30 a.m. and remanded to state prison, Minihan looked at the victims and said, “I’m sorry”, in reference to the light sentence.
She was taken into custody by the Westchester County Department of Correction at 4:32 p.m.
What is an indeterminate sentence?
According to the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, “a type of custodial sentence that consists of a range of years and not a fixed time, which means the convicted person’s release date is left open. After spending a certain amount of time in prison, the state parole board holds a hearing to determine whether the convicted person is eligible for parole.
After the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Cooper Gorrie, the prosecutor in the case, told the families that Delitta would have to serve the first year but might then be paroled for the remainder of her sentence. He explained that under New York State law one year is counted as 7/8th of a year, so 319 days or about 10.5 months.
There were restitution judgements in some cases, but not all.
DeLitta was indicted by a Westchester County Grand Jury on November 4, 2021, and arrested then arraigned on November 10, 2021, with eight counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and two counts of Unauthorized Practice of a Profession, all felonies.
The charges related to misappropriation and fraud involving client funds, most of the clients were known to her through her friends and family connected through Cerebral Palsy Westchester. Delitta’s sister is a paraplegic involved with WCP.
DeLitta grew up in New Rochelle, where she attended the New Rochelle public schools.
- Indicted by a Grand Jury on November 4, 2021
- Arrested by Westchester County District Attorney’s Office Criminal Investigators following an investigation conducted by the Economic Crimes Bureau
- Arraigned before Judge Susan M. Cacace on November 11, 2021
- Pleaded not guilty and ROR’d the same day
- Pleaded Guilty on May 24, 2022, to 8 counts of Grand Larceny – 2nd (property value greater than $50,000), a C Felony and to 2 counts of Unauthorized Practice of Profession, an E Felony
Between January 2017 and March 2021, DeLitta stole over $3.5 million from eight individuals and estates. DeLitta was also charged by the Grand Jury with two counts of practicing law without a license. She had been under investigation on allegations that she misappropriated $4.4 mm dollars in funds entrusted to her as fiduciary and engaged in fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation.
On November 2, 2020, Delitta resigned as an attorney and counselor-at-law. In a sworn affidavit she acknowledged that she was then the subject of five complaints of professional misconduct against her that are under investigation by the Grievance Committee for the Ninth Judicial District.
The complaints allege that she misappropriated funds entrusted to her as fiduciary, incident to her practice of law, and engaged in fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation.
The New York State Appellate Division, Second Department revoked DeLitta’s law license on May 19, 2021, after she agreed to make restitution of $1.4 million to four clients: Ira Cohen ($500,812), Naomi Wundeler ($600,000), Joseph Vallarell ($230,000), and Roberta Stein-Ham ($130,000).
DeLitta is facing another $2 million in default judgements involving three other complaints.
The New York State Lawyers Fund for Client Protection may cover some losses, but the maximum award from the Lawyers Fund is $400,000.
What they are saying:
Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah: “Attorneys should be held to the highest standards of ethics and integrity, Ms. DeLitta violated her oath and professional duties in every way when she broke the law and stole from her clients. My Office has no tolerance for such conduct.”
Victim Impact Statements:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Three of the victims read from prepared statements. They provided then for this article. For privacy reasons we removed their names from their statements.
Victim 1: “Laurianne, this is meant for you.
“According to Websters Dictionary, the definition of trust is as follows: The firm belief in the reliability, TRUTH, ability, and strength of someone. From the day we first met you, you gave us every reason to trust you. From the drafting of wills, to settling our parent’s estate, to the closing of our parent’s house…WE trusted you.
“You often referred to us as family. OUR family was raised to trust, care for and depend on one another no matter what. YOU have let us down in so many way:
“While one person may define family as relatives who share their home and namE another may consider their beloved circle of friends as their family. Families are vastly different but they all function under one single premise: Shared love, trust and commitment. YOU, however, are not family and you have broken our trust.
“We have wasted SO much time and money over what you have done to our family and the other families involved. You preyed on all of our emotions. Namely your constant lies about fake funerals, fake illnesses and hospitalizations and your fake attempted thefts against you like your paraplegic sister stole our money or the many people who you claim committed wire fraud and your bank accounts were frozen.
“For the last several years you have been free and living your best life at OUR expense.No amount of time you serve in prison will ever be enough to justify the time you have stolen from all of us. May each day you serve in prison be as long and painful as your betrayal has impacted us.
“You are a pathetic embarrassment to the legal system and should consider yourself to be extremely lucky on the leniency of your prison sentence.”
Victim 2: “I am here representing my 96 year old mother, as her POA. Laurianne DeLitta stole all the money my mother had left in this world. And she knew it was all the money my mother had left because she had represented members of my family in various legal matters for years. Ms. DeLitta was well aware of the financial struggles my family experienced right before and after my father’s death. My mother’s condo was the only asset she had left. When my mother entered an assisted living facility at the age of 93, the proceeds from the sale of the condo were to pay for her care. $486,000 dollars. We were told by Ms DeLitta that the money would be held in escrow in order to bring current any arrears including an IRS debt. She assured us that she would pay the assisted living facility monthly from the escrow account. Some months were paid on time; most were not. When questioned about late payments the constant barrage of lies included the check was mailed, I will fedex it to get it there on time. It must have been lost. I will stop payment and issue a new one. I sent it I swear. I’m waiting for the interest to be calculated so your mother will have more money. Most outrageous, and perhaps the biggest lie of all, my account is frozen because it was hacked! When my mother suffered a health crisis in March of 2021, we were concerned that she would need extra care. We needed to have her money readily available. My sister, Lisa, who was Ms DeLitta’s sister in law, began to put pressure on Laurianne to release the money.
“More lies — I’m waiting for the release from the IRS, (which we never received proof of), I got it and will transfer the money, I’m at the bank, the money has been transferred, you will have it later today or tomorrow. Needless to say, we never received the money and all communication ended.
“One of the hardest things I have ever had to do was go to the assisted living facility, explain the situation, and literally beg that they allow my mother to stay while we tried to catch-up on 3 months of rent and care. $24,000! No family should have to go through this with a parent in the later stages of life.
“Even to this day, Ms DeLitta continues to deceive and lie. In particular, the handling of a business matter for my family where she refuses to hand over information regarding a judgement and collection of money by a marshal; she refuses to even give us the marshal’s name. Why??? What else is she hiding?
“You should have received the maximum sentence.
“As an officer of the court you were obligated to maintain the highest ethical standards. Instead, you are a pathological liar who deceived my family, betrayed our trust, and stole my mothers money. For these actions. you have shown no remorse.
“Finally, Laurianne, I have one question for you. What did you do with the millions of dollars you stole from your clients, including my mother? A woman you referred to as family. The only satisfaction that my family and my mother will get from this nighimare. you created, is to see you go to prison!”
Victim 3: “I am the former sister-in-law and friend to Laurianne and her wife. I am here representing my family. Laurianne, I want you to know I believed everything you told us. You are family, our family and we treated you with nothing but love and respect, yet, you deceived us. All along I defended you. I believed all your lies and told our family there must be more to this story. Boy was I wrong.
“You were always generous to your family, my family. You showered your niece, my daughter, with a wedding gown, engagement party, baby shower, and many lavish gifts, all along doing so with others money, my mothers money, yet you led us to believe you were just being sincere and generous. Who does that?
“You gave your other niece, my other daughter, some $9000 believing you were helping her pay bills. We later found out she was in trouble and had I been made aware at the time, I may have been able to help her. You hid this from everyone including your own wife, again lying to the people closest to you. What does that say about your character? Who does that?
“You also stole money from your wife’s Aunt, $50,000 to be exact. That is not even part of your Grand Larceny charges because your cousin so trusted you she never even called you about it and when she finally did earlier this year you didn’t return her calls. So she looked up your office number on the internet to call u and was shocked to see the stories that came up. You then continued your lies to your own cousin telling her she would receive the money shortly. This was as recent as this June.
“You told me I quote, “ I would never do anything to intentionally hurt your mother or your family”, yet you did. You intentionally lied to us by continuing to act as Mom’s attorney, knowing you had submitted your resignation to the Bar. You intentionally lied to us about what was happening with my mom’s money and when she would receive the money. You intentionally lied to me when I questioned you about the Wunderler Family who said you stole their money. In April , You told me you paid the them back in November. Yes, these acts were intentional and yes they did hurt us, and our family. Who does that?
“You can NEVER be forgiven For all the pain and suffering you have caused our family emotionally, mentally, and physically, you should be sentenced to the max possible punishment for being so devious, cunning, and deceitful.”
This person did not have prepared remarks. The following are reporter’s noted not a verbatim transcript.
“I have a daughter with Cerebral Palsy. In 12th grade she was left behind during a fire, there was a lawsuit, and the award money was given to Laurie so that with my wife’s passing there would be money for my daughter. That money is gone.
“My wife fell. She is in a nursing home. She wanted me to remind Laurie that they used to walk to school together, it has been 40 years
“When my father went to sell his home he contacted Laurieanne. Since he lived in Connecticut, and she was not licensed in Connecticut she could not handle the closing and referred him to a lawyer licensed in Connecticut. She also handled the estate of my father-in-law yet upon his passing could or would never produce his will to my wife’s family.
“Whenever we had questions we called Laurie. We never questioned anything. We trusted her for everything
“In April 2021 we traveled to see my mom who was dying of cancer. Lori drove me and my daughter to the airport. She called us at 6 a.m. to say she was on her way. Since she has a sister with cerebral palsy she knew how to drive our wheelchair van.
“The violation of trust will never be repaired. We couldn’t have been closer to her.
“I am afraid to go the mailbox, what will be the next bill I can’t pay, as all our money is gone.
“All we did was trust her.