Grant of PTI to Embezzling Lawyer To Help Pay Back Victims Reversed

A trial court’s grant of pretrial intervention to a N.J. lawyer who admitted misappropriating $100,000 from investors—explicitly so that he could keep working to pay them back—didn’t stand up on appeal.

The judge’s decision that letting Middletown solo Philip Leone stay out of jail would be in the best interests of his creditors was predicated on her own assessment, not that of the prosecutor, whose initial PTI denial was entitled to more deference, the appeals court said.

Leone, charged with second-degree theft by deception, agreed to plead guilty to third-degree theft by deception and to pay $100,000 in restitution in exchange for the prosecution recommending a noncustodial sentence and permitting him to file a late application for PTI.

But the prosecutor rejected the PTI application based on the fact that he was a lawyer at the time he embezzled the money, spent it on self-indulgent conduct and had no addiction or other disability to explain his behavior.

Leone was disbarred in 2010 for trust account violations unrelated to the investment scheme.

Originally published here

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