(Editor's note: This article is based on information submitted by the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley.)
A former Tewksbury attorney has been indicted in connection with stealing more than $400,000 from multiple clients, one of whom is disabled.
Raymond Paczkowski, Jr., 77, of Tewksbury, was indicted Tuesday (Oct. 2) by a Statewide Grand Jury on one count of Larceny over $250 from a Disabled Person and seven counts of Larceny over $250.
In announcing the indictment, Attorney General Martha Coakley alleged that Paczkowski stole money that had been entrusted to him by clients seeking help to pay off mortgages or as part of the probate of an estate.
“We allege this defendant preyed on vulnerable clients who trusted him with their finances,” Coakley said. “By abusing his position of power as an attorney, this defendant allegedly took advantage of seven clients, stealing more than $400,000 in total and using it for his own purposes.”
In 2010, the AG’s Office began an investigation after the matter was referred from the Tewksbury Police Department and the Massachusetts Clients’ Security Board. The Clients’ Security Board distributes fund money to members of the public who have sustained a financial loss caused by the dishonest conduct of a member of the bar acting as an attorney or a fiduciary.
According to Coakley, Paczkowski worked as an attorney specializing in conveyancing and probate work, and also did some work with insurance claims and litigation. In 2008, authorities allege that Paczkowski began stealing from several of his clients.
According to investigators, Paczkowski received $75,000 in 2008 from a disabled client in order to pay off a mortgage on her home. Several months later, however, the client received a letter indicting that the loan was still outstanding. It is alleged that Paczkowski never gave the money to the lender and instead stole it for his personal use.
Prosecutors also allege Paczkowski took money from several other clients who had sought help in paying off their mortgages. In one case, a client gave Paczkowski $175,000, with the intent that Paczkowski immediately use those funds to pay off the existing mortgage on his property. The client, however, continued to receive monthly mortgage statements and it is alleged that Paczkowski stole the money instead of paying off the client’s mortgage.
In other instances, according to Coakley, Paczkowski allegedly stole money from clients who had hired him to assist with the handling or disposing of estate property after experiencing a death in the family. In one case, a client who assumed the full title to his mother’s property after she passed sought Paczkowski’s assistance in paying off a mortgage in order to refinance. The client’s mother owed roughly $109,000 to the company that held a mortgage on the property and Paczkowski allegedly received $158,100 from a new lender. According to investigators, Paczkowski forwarded the proceeds to the client, but failed to pay off the original mortgage company.
Prosecutors allege that the client realized the theft when he received multiple late notices on his mother’s mortgage statement.
A Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments against Paczkowski on October 1. He is scheduled to be arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court at a later date. On November 24, 2010 Paczkowski was disbarred, after having been administratively suspended that October. Paczkowski had previously been disbarred in August 1985 for conduct similar to the present allegations.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Doherty, of AG Coakley’s Fraud and Financial Crimes Division, with assistance from Jack D’Isodoro of AG Coakley’s Financial Investigations Division, members of the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the AG’s Office.