Every profession has those that are good at their jobs and those that are not so good and as a result reflect poorly on everyone else. Lawyers are commonly mocked group as they are often stereotyped as being slimy, underhanded, or dishonest, and that gives all of the good, honest lawyers a bad name. Unfortunately, stereotypes typically don’t come out of nowhere and in this case John Loannou defines the stereotype.
As a personal injury lawyer Loannou represented a broad range of clients, from infants to the elderly and everyone in between, and assisted them with filing settlements for various types of injuries. However, what clients didn’t know was that he was embezzling some or all of the money earned in the settlement and leaving the clients with little to nothing for their suffering. In one case he embezzled money from an account belonging to an infant whose father was killed in a car accident, money that was intended to help cover future educational expenses. In other cases he didn’t even tell the client they had won, just kept the money for himself. In all over a 4 year period he stole nearly $400,000.
Unfortunately it doesn’t end there. When clients didn’t receive their settlements or weren’t able to contact Loannou they filed complaints with the Departmental Discipline Committee. There were more complaints filed against him in the Bronx and Manhattan than any other law firm in the last 40 years. In response, Loannou tried negotiating with clients in exchange for dropping the complaint and in some cases forging documents in an effort to remove the complaints. This article from the New York Post discusses more details.
Overall, Loannou faced a litany of charges including grand larceny, insurance fraud, and identity theft for which he pleaded guilty in July of this year. He was sentenced to up to 7 years in a state prison. His license was suspended back in 2011 and it would seem unlikely that it would be reinstated. His lawyer stated that most of the money has been repaid; although it is little consolation for the clients that have suffered additionally as a result of his crimes.
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