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Ex-attorney sentenced to prison, ordered to repay stolen client funds

Robert R. Goods, a former Amherst real estate attorney who became a swindler and a thief, was sentenced Thursday to prison terms in two Buffalo courtrooms.

In U.S. District Court, Judge William M. Skretny ordered Goods to spend 18 months in federal prison and to pay $521,800 in restitution.

In Erie County Court, the 49-year-old Goods was sentenced to one to three years in state prison.

The federal and state sentences are to be served concurrently, but Goods is expected to spend some time in state prison -- at least two to nine months -- after he first serves his time in federal prison, court officials said.

Goods, a Snyder resident who stole money intended for refinancing mortgages for two clients, apologized for his greed.

"I'm sorry for what I did," Goods said. "People trusted me, and I broke that trust."

He was disbarred last year after pleading guilty to state grand larceny and federal bank fraud charges tied to a series of transactions that involved two of his clients and SunTrust Bank.

After one client obtained a $423,531 loan from SunTrust to refinance a mortgage, Goods said he would forward most of the money to another bank to pay off the earlier mortgage, but he used the money for other purposes, Assistant U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross said in court papers.

The same thing happened with another client who got a $128,000 loan from SunTrust to refinance a mortgage, the prosecutor said.

Joel L. Daniels, Goods' attorney, said his client got himself into money trouble with a number of "foolish" financial decisions, including the 2007 purchase of a $255,000 Snyder home followed by the purchase of a Crystal Beach, Ont., cottage for $135,000.

Goods -- who also filed for bankruptcy in 2005, erasing $87,000 in debt -- did not make enough money to pay for the new home and the cottage, Daniels said in a letter to Skretny.

"Essentially, he was taking money from Peter to pay Paul, and he found himself deep in the hole," Daniels said. He said Goods has sold the Crystal Beach cottage to raise money for restitution.

Erie County Judge Michael F. Pietruszka sentenced Goods to the state prison term.

Assistant Erie County District Attorney John C. Doscher asked Pietruszka to consider that Goods disgraced the legal profession and violated his oath to his clients. He said that, so far, Goods has repaid only $11,000 -- barely more than 2 percent of the money he stole.

Goods, who has three children, told Pietruszka, "I truly want to become a better person." Because of the fine and restitution Skretny imposed on Goods hours earlier, Pietruszka did not deal with restitution but ordered Goods to pay about $300 in court assessments out of his state prison wages.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com and mgryta @buffnews.com

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