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Area Attorney Admits Defrauding Elderly Clients

U.S. Federal Court in Hartford.
U.S. Federal Court in Hartford. Photo Credit: File

A partner at a Connecticut law firm has admitted to stealing more than two million dollars from an elderly client he represented.

Woodbury resident Robert Barry waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty in Hartford federal court to one count of wire fraud for his role in a scheme to defraud elderly client trust accounts over the course of more than seven years.

Barry, 77, was a partner in the law firm of Sturges and Mathes in Southbury, which specializes in trust and estates work.

Barry’s role at the firm included drafting trust agreements for clients, designating himself as successor trustee in the event of his client’s death. He also prepared wills for clients that named him the executor of the estate upon death.

Beginning in 2008 and lasting through December 2015, Barry engaged in a scheme to defraud an elderly woman by stealing from her trust accounts while she was alive, and then stealing from her estate upon her death. As executor of his victim, he directed Sturges and Mathes staff members to prepare checks on his victim’s account, payable to the firm.

Once the money was deposited into the firm’s operating account, Barry then directed staff to cut checks against it to a special account in the firm’s name, which he controlled. He then wrote checks from that secondary account to his own personal bank account. Barry then went on to make false and misleading statements to the victim and her beneficiaries about the money.

In total, Barry stole more than $2.4 million from his victim and his victim’s estate. To hide the stolen money, Barry also caused a false federal estate tax return to be filed with the IRS, including $937,000 in unreported funds.

Barry remains released on $100,000 bond. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 4, when he will face up to 20 years in prison. He also agreed to pay more than $2.4 million in restitution for losses to the victim’s estate.

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