NJ Lawyer Embezzled $1.4M From Estate of Mount Vernon Resident

Lanning Taliaferro

Mount Vernon Patch

Oct 24, 2018

MOUNT VERNON, NY — A New Jersey lawyer who embezzled $1.4 million from the estate of a Mount Vernon resident for which he was the court-appointed administrator pleaded guilty Tuesday to one charge of wire fraud. He used the dead person's money to finance a lavish lifestyle, officials said.

"As a fiduciary of an estate, Gregory Bayard's duty was to protect the assets of the decedent and ensure that the rightful beneficiaries receive their inheritance," said Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. "Instead, Bayard violated his obligation and used the estate for his own use, spending nearly more than $1 million of the estate's money on home renovations, college tuition, and other personal expenses. Bayard now faces significant prison time for his crimes."

"This is the second individual charged in trying to allegedly exploit this estate identified as part of our joint investigation," said New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said.

Bayard was appointed administrator of the estate of a former resident of Mount Vernon by the Surrogate's Court in 2008. His duties as administrator included collecting the assets of the estate. As an administrator, he had a fiduciary duty to the estate and to the decedent's son, the sole beneficiary of his father's will. New York law provides, for a fee, estate administrators based on a percentage of the value of the estate's assets.

In 2009, the decedent's son retained an attorney and filed a motion in the Surrogate's Court to remove Bayard as the administrator of his father's estate. While the motion was pending, Bayard embezzled more than $1.4 million from the estate's bank account.

And the motion was apparently pending for years.

From June 2011 to June 2012, he wrote approximately 14 checks totaling more than $435,000 from the estate's account to himself. From December 2012 to May 2016, Bayard caused more than 70 electronic wire transfers of a total of more than $1 million from the estate's account to his personal account.

He spent the money on home renovations, college tuition, and other personal expenses and transferred some of the money to family members.

Bayard, 58, of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as the sentence will be determined by the court.

Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the Postal Inspection Service and the New York State Comptroller. This case is being handled by the Office's White Plains Division. Assistant United States Attorney James McMahon is in charge of the prosecution.