Former Norwalk lawyer charged with stealing $1.85 million from clients in real estate deals

Former Norwalk lawyer charged with stealing $1.85 million from clients in real estate deals

Roger Pettingell Sarasota Real Estate

NORWALK — A local attorney who was accused by clients of failing to pay them funds from real estate closings has been arrested on multiple counts of larceny, according to Norwalk police records.

Carl Ferraro of Darien was arrested Wednesday on eight counts of first-degree larceny, the department’s arrest log says.

Court documents allege that Ferraro stole more than $1.85 million from clients of his Norwalk law practice while holding their money in escrow from real estate transactions.

Ferraro, 57, appeared virtually Thursday before Judge Kevin Randolph in Superior Court in Stamford. Randolph set a bond of $1.2 million in the case: $150,000 for each of the eight counts filed against Ferraro.

His attorney, Suzanne Sutton of Bridgeport-based firm Cohen and Wolf, said that Ferraro “at this point does not have the ability to post bond” due to “serious mental and physical health situations” that precipitated his alleged crimes and arrest.

“He’s been struggling with those issues for quite some time, which is really what led us to this point,” she said. Ferraro had been in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities since resigning from the state bar association on April 22 and has since “been diagnosed” by medical professionals, Sutton said.

She declined to comment on the nature of Ferraro’s condition but moved to add the records related to his condition to the court files.

Ferraro’s license to practice law was suspended on March 15, after a state judge wrote in an order that he “poses a threat of irreparable harm to current and prospective clients,” civil court filings show.

At least four of Ferraro’s clients reported at the time that they were owed money from real estate closings, the court filings stated. Court records show Ferraro had eight grievance complaints as of June 14. In April, he resigned from the state bar and waived his privilege to seek readmission.

Though Ferraro is charged with eight counts of larceny, Sutton said she is “not ruling out” the possibility of additional charges against her client, given the early stages of the case.

“Usually in these kinds of processes … sometimes people don’t even know that’s something until they hear about it in the news,” she said. However, in the several months since victims filed complaints against Ferraro, no additional grievances have been filed.

Ferraro is next scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 15.

The grievances listed in the civil court documents include allegations that Ferraro failed to distribute the full proceeds from real estate sales to clients. One woman claimed that she made a down payment on a property that was held in escrow by Ferraro but “was advised by her attorneys that the monies held by Attorney Ferraro are now missing,” according to a civil filing.

Norwalk police also had an investigation into those claims by his former clients, according to the civil court filings.

Ferraro’s practice was placed in the care of a trustee in March after his law license was suspended. The trustee told the courts he was able to gain access to Ferraro’s office by climbing through an unlocked window.

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