Westfield Lawyer Charged With Stealing $189,660 In Real Estate Closing Funds

TRENTON – A lawyer from Westfield was indicted today on charges that he stole $189,660 in closing funds related to a home sale that were entrusted to him as the settlement agent, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.

According to Taylor, the Division of Criminal Justice Financial and Computer Crimes Bureau obtained a state grand jury indictment charging Amedeo “Matt” Gaglioti, 57, of Westfield, with theft by failure to make required disposition of property received and misapplication of entrusted property, both in the second-degree.

A real estate agent hired Gaglioti to serve as the settlement agent for the sale of a home in Linden in June 2010. The sellers had two outstanding mortgages on the property totaling $189,660 that were required to be satisfied for the sale. At the closing, the necessary funds were wired into an attorney trust account maintained by Gaglioti, who was obligated to use the funds to pay off the mortgages and provide proof of their cancellation. However, he allegedly failed to satisfy either mortgage. Instead, he allegedly stole the funds, withdrawing them from the trust account for unrelated purposes. This left the home encumbered by three mortgages.

“Lawyers take an oath to be guardians of the law and fiduciaries for their clients, but we charge that this lawyer broke the law by stealing funds that were entrusted to him,” said Dow.

“Through prosecutions such as this one, we are working to safeguard the public from unscrupulous attorneys,” said Taylor.

Second-degree crimes carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison and a $150,000 fine. The indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. The indictment was handed up to Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg in Mercer County, who assigned it to Union County.

The New Jersey Supreme Court suspended Gaglioti from practicing law in New Jersey in November 2010 for failing to cooperate in an investigation by the Office of Attorney Ethics into his alleged misappropriation of closing funds from several real estate transactions.

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