A Florida-based attorney was busted for fraudulently filing more than 300 lawsuits on his behalf of two clients – who had no idea what he was doing – and making nearly $1 million in the process, officials said.
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Stuart Finkelstein, a 65-year-old attorney, lived in the southern town of Davie, Florida, but swindled companies and local establishments in both New York and the Sunshine State out of thousands of dollars from October 2013 to May 2019, according to a Tuesday press release.
The embattled attorney allegedly filed more than 300 Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuits through the Southern Districts of New York and Florida seeking injunctive relief and attorney’s fees. Finkelstein then settled the cases and ultimately garnered approximately $930,000 in the fraudulent attorney’s fees.
In each suit, Finkelstein claimed that either of his purported clients was hindered because the public businesses allegedly were not compliant with the ADA, meaning the locations were not outfitted to accommodate people with disabilities, the indictment states. But the Florida man had actually stolen his clients’ identities – and the alleged victims had never gone to the locations.
Finkelstein was disbarred in New York state from 2007 to 2016, the New York Post reported earlier in the year. He could not immediately be reached for comment, despite multiple attempts.
On Tuesday, he was hit with charges of mail fraud, aggravated identity theft, obstruction of justice and false declarations before a court in connection to his scheme, according to the unsealed indictment. He was later released on $150,000 bail.