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Lawyer gets probation for thefts from estate of elderly brother, sister

A 71-year-old estate lawyer who diverted $1.3 million from charitable trust accounts set up by an Orchard Park brother and sister has been sentenced in New York County Supreme Court to four years probation for his crime.

Stephen M. Newman, who previously pleaded guilty to second-degree grand larceny, also must forfeit $800,000 and has surrendered his licenses to practice law in New York and Florida.

Newman had been retained by June and Worth Farrington as an estate planning attorney to set up the trust before their deaths in 2008 and 2014, respectively. According to the Attorney General’s Office, between 2007 and 2009, Newman changed the outright gifts to charities into annuities and made himself the sole trustee, diverting more than $900,000 to himself. Additionally, Newman diverted more than $400,000 to Joan M. Morgante, a home aide he introduced to the Farringtons, according to the attorney general.

Morgante, 76, of Cheektowaga, pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted grand larceny for her part in the scheme and is scheduled to be sentenced to five years’ probation when she appears before Justice John L. Michalski on June 15.