Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced the arraignment of Douglas Arntsen, 34, a real estate attorney, for embezzling more than $7 million from a client of the Manhattan law firm Crowell & Moring, where he was formerly employed. With the assistance of officers from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and U.S. Marshals Service, Arntsen was returned to New York. The defendant has been charged in New York County Criminal Court with two counts of grand larceny in the first degree and one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree.
“Lawyers who steal funds from their clients do more than just violate the law; they betray an important trust,” Vance said. “The day after Arntsen was terminated from his firm, my office initiated an investigation into his conduct and he fled to Hong Kong, where he had been held by authorities ever since. He is charged with abusing his client’s trust and, to make matters worse, he attempted to evade justice. He will be prosecuted with those factors in mind.”
According to the felony complaint, Arntsen was an attorney at Crowell & Moring between February 2007 and September 2011. Regal Real Estate LLC, a real estate management company for commercial and residential buildings in Manhattan, used the firm, and specifically the defendant, as their attorney on most, if not all, of their real estate transactions. Beginning in April 2010, Arntsen began moving money from the escrow accounts related to the sale of Regal’s properties into bank accounts he controlled.
According to the bail application made by the District Attorney’s Office in court, after the theft from Regal was uncovered, a second corporate client of Crowell & Moring contacted the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office regarding the defendant’s handling of that client’s funds. The investigation into Arntsen is continuing.
This investigation was conducted by Assistant District Attorneys Gary Galperin, senior investigative counsel, and Sophi Jacobs of the Rackets Bureau, who handled the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Michael Scotto, former chief of the Rackets Bureau, Jane Tully, deputy chief of the Rackets Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney Adam Kaufmann, chief of the Investigation Division. Trial Preparation Assistant Michael Taddei, Supervising Financial Investigator Matthew Paul, Senior Rackets Investigators Reginald Barometre and James Fenrich, Rackets Investigator Jonathan Reid, and Chief Investigator John Bilich also provided valuable assistance with the investigation. Assistant District Attorney Madeleine Guilmain is handling the asset forfeiture aspect of the case, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Duncan Levin, chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit.
Vance thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs, the U.S Marshals Service, and officials in the People’s Republic of China for their assistance.