Two clients of disbarred Niagara County attorney Roger J. Niemel and a client of late Buffalo attorney Richard L. Baumgarten have been awarded a combined $164,564 through the New York State Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection.
Niemel, 71, was sentenced by Niagara County Judge Sara Sheldon Farkas to two years in Niagara County Jail on his guilty plea to grand larceny and forged-instrument charges for stealing $153,264 from a Wheatfield man’s estate and for his theft of $7,000 from the attorney escrow fund he had maintained for a Grand Island woman, according to Timothy O’Sullivan, spokesman for the fund.
A Buffalo husband and wife were reimbursed $4,300 for money they paid Baumgarten for legal fees in a criminal appeal deemed faulty.
Suspended from legal practice in 2002 for neglect and failure to refund unearned legal fees, Baumgarten was reinstated to the legal practice in 2003 and was considered an attorney in good standing at the time of his death in 2007, O’Sullivan said.
These payments were among 46 reimbursements totaling $1.5 million to clients of 22 lawyers in 11 counties, including nine in New York City and seven on Long Island.
Since the State Court of Appeals in Albany created the Albany-based Lawyer’s Fund in 1982, it has reimbursed more than $163.5 million to more than 7,254 clients defrauded by 1,042 attorneys, O’Sullivan said.
The fund’s reimbursements come from registration fees paid by the state’s more than 271,000 attorneys.