Disbarred attorney charged with stealing $85K from elderly client

Grand jury indicted lawyer in separate case for stealing $1.2 million from a client

By Joseph Kellard
The Daily Record Newswire

LONG ISLAND, NY - A disbarred North Carolina attorney was arrested and charged last week with stealing more than $85,000 from an elderly and disabled former client that she helped secure a reverse mortgage, after she was indicted earlier this year for fraud in a separate case.

Janice Jessup, 68, surrendered to the Nassau County District Attorney Office and was charged with second-degree grand larceny, second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument and first-degree falsifying business records, Acting D.A. Madeline Singas announced last week.

Nassau County District Court Judge Paul Meli ordered the continued electronic monitoring of Jessup, who was released on her own recognizance based on that condition. Jessup faces a maximum sentence of 5 to 15 years in prison and is due back in court on this case on September 25.

Jessup's arrest Monday comes after a Nassau County Grand Jury in April indicted her in a separate case in which she allegedly stole $1.2 million from the a physically and mentally disabled client who was owed money from the acquisition of her property by eminent domain. In that case, Jessup was arraigned on charges of first-degree grand larceny and first-degree defraud, and faces a maximum sentence of 8-1/3 to 25 years in prison. She is scheduled to appear before Acting Supreme Court Justice Jerald Carter on Sept. 25.

"This disbarred attorney allegedly stole from an 85-year-old woman and used the money to buy limos and a vintage Corvette," Singas said in a statement about Jessup's arrest. "Stealing is always wrong, but stealing from the elderly is especially despicable, and we will aggressively prosecute this case."

According to the D.A., in 2008 the then-85-year-old woman retained Jessup in order to obtain a reverse mortgage for her home in Roosevelt. That year, Jessup obtained the reverse mortgage for the elderly woman allegedly to help raise money to pay for her care in a Rockville Centre nursing facility where she resided since 2008.

However, Jessup, who is also known by her married name Janice Jones and lived in Baldwin, was disbarred in August 2010 after she submitted her resignation while facing a disciplinary proceeding alleging a number of charges of professional misconduct, according to the D.A. But Jessup obtained a power of attorney purportedly bearing the signature of her former client in November 2011, giving her the power to control the victim's finances.

In January 2012, Jessup filed an application with Wells Fargo Bank in the victim's name, requesting an additional line of credit. She submitted the document to the bank falsely certifying that the victim continued to occupy the Roosevelt house as her primary residence, according to the D.A.

Soon after, Jessup obtained additional reverse mortgage funding, with a line of credit of $47,467, and she allegedly stole those funds and other funds the victim owned in excess of $85,000. According to the D.A., the stolen funds were primarily used to personally benefits the defendant and her then husband and his business, the Freeport-based Legacy Limousines, and as a partial payment for the purchase price for a 1985 Chevrolet Corvette in his name.

Jessup is also alleged to have forged a check payable to Legacy Limousine that was purportedly signed by the son of the elderly victim.

The Nassau County Guardianship Program of Selfhelp Community Services, Inc., (Selfhelp), was appointed guardian of the victim in 2013 and continued an investigation that the Medicaid Division of the Nassau County Department of Social Services initiated. Selfhelp filed a complaint with the District Attorney's office, which opened an investigation into the matter.

In the other case, the family of a mentally and physically disabled women retained Jessup in 2007 to represent her in a $1.2 million eminent domain action involving property that was subsequently developed into the Yes We Can Community Center in Westbury, officials said.

Jessup received the funds by court order as the attorney for her client in 2008. Jessup allegedly spent the money on various unauthorized personal, business and other expenses that included direct payments to herself and members of her family, as well as payments to some of her law clients.

Jessup is represented by Ira Weissman of Central Islip, who was unavailable for comment Tuesday morning.

Published: Mon, Sep 28, 2015