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Disbarred lawyer accused in theft

LOCKPORT – A disbarred attorney who practiced in North Tonawanda for 44 years was arraigned Tuesday in Niagara County Court on charges of looting an estate of more than $100,000.

Roger J. Niemel, 69, who now lives in Alexandria, Va., pleaded not guilty to second-degree grand larceny and five counts of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument.

Assistant District Attorney Brian D. Seaman said those charges are unrelated to the misconduct that resulted in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court lifting Niemel's law license in March 2011.

At that time, Niemel was ordered to pay $20,500 in restitution to a Grand Island woman whose money he had misappropriated.

The Appellate Division said in its ruling that Niemel violated 11 different rules of professional conduct in the Grand Island woman's case, including misappropriating funds entrusted to him and mixing them with his personal funds.

The appellate court's ruling says Niemel twice failed to appear to respond to the charges and was disbarred in a default judgment without making any effort to contest the outcome.

However, no criminal prosecution resulted from that case.

Seaman said the indictment unsealed Tuesday accuses Niemel of stealing money from an estate, of which he was co-executor, between June 2005 and June 2008.