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WORCESTER – It’s been about a decade aback Martha Murray acclimatized a medical abuse accusation through Abigail Williams & Associates, a law close with a appearance of the Common from the Worcester Plaza belfry at 446 Main St.
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When she died in May 2011, the 86-year-old had yet to accept $20,000 of her settlement, but close advocate Ross Annenberg assured her ancestors that he was alive to boldness a Medicare affirmation that was captivation things up.
In reality, Mr. Annenberg had already deposited the banknote into his coffer account a year before, one of abounding bent acts baldheaded by a accompaniment Lath of Bar Overseers investigator whose delving led to Mr. Annenberg’s disbarment in 2015.
Yet, acceptance acceptance to misusing applicant funds three years ago, local authorities are aloof now alpha to allegation the 53-year-old Hopkinton man, afflictive those he wronged and adopting questions about why case was delayed.
“It feels like someone’s attention him,” said Ms. Murray’s daughter, Patricia Harmon, a above controlling at the Worcester Art Museum, who still has not apparent the $20,000 to which she believes her ancestors is entitled.
Ms. Harmon’s mother appears to be one of added than 30 audience Worcester badge and prosecutors cited as acceptable victims of artifice in cloister abstracts dating to 2014. But accuse did not chase until this February, when Worcester police charged Mr. Annenberg with burglary over $250.
Ms. Harmon said she’s never been interviewed by authorities, despite contacting the Advocate General’s Appointment for help. Her case is one of abounding whose statute of limitations appears to have expired, leaving questions about the admeasurement to which Mr. Annenberg could be captivated accountable.
More troubling, says his above bang-up Abigail Williams, is her acceptance that authorities could accept prevented some of Mr. Annenberg’s declared crimes had they acted sooner.
“We’re actuality to assure the commonwealth, right?” asked Ms. Williams, who owns the close and has for years harbored suspicions about the ability of the case’s antecedent investigator, Assistant District Advocate John A. O’Leary.
Mr. O’Leary, the white-collar prosecutor for Worcester District Advocate Joseph D. Aboriginal Jr., is on contributed leave afterwards actuality arrested Jan. 15 for allegedly active bashed with his boyish babe in the car. In an annual a ages afore Mr. O’Leary’s arrest, Ms. Williams told the Telegram & Gazette she had continued doubtable he had a bubbler botheration and questioned his work belief on the case.
Ms. Williams declared the DA’s appointment several weeks afterwards Mr. O’Leary’s arrest and accepted a affair with Mr. Aboriginal to altercate the Annenberg case. The aforementioned day she called, Donald Ball, a appropriate prosecutor who was assigned the case in 2016 because of conflict-of-interest concerns, resumed alive on it, bills show, for the aboriginal time in 11 months.
Mr. Early, citing restrictions on what prosecutors can say, declined an annual request. He acclaimed through a backer that Worcester badge are the advance bureau on the case and that Mr. O’Leary hasn’t had the case aback September 2016.
Worcester badge filed a burglary allegation adjoin Mr. Annenberg Feb. 27, several canicule afterwards the T&G able out to a detective and asked why accuse weren’t filed. Police deferred animadversion to Mr. Early, acquainted accuse were pending.
According to Mr. Early’s office, appropriate prosecutors accept absolute ascendancy to exercise acknowledged acumen over their cases.
Documents and interviews acknowledge a circuitous web of accusations, boundless banking problems and claimed acrimony for authorities to consider.
Yet they additionally point to a case the Board of Bar Overseers accepted to be prosecuted, with Ms. Williams asserting the case’s accompaniment investigator saw it as a “slam dunk” and beatific at atomic one letter to the Advocate General as cessation persisted.
‘Never told me a thing’
As snow began to abatement on a February afternoon, John Furey answered the aperture to his Fitchburg apartment in a red shirt and active shorts.
It was the 84-year-old’s day off from the gym, area he consistently hits a dozen machines. The retired abecedary and longtime academy sports referee’s activity was axiomatic as he showed a anchorman about his place.
His eyes shined as he batten of his backward wife, June. Pointing to old photos adorning the walls of his bright active room, he declared his ancestors with activity and warmth.
His affection afflicted aback the accountable angry to Mr. Annenberg.
“He was a liar. A cheat,” he said as he addled through affirmation he keeps tucked neatly central a dejected folder. “I don’t apperceive how he goes to bed at night.”
Mr. Furey assassin the Worcester claimed abrasion advocate afterwards a rehabilitation centermost in 2011 rebroke his hip four canicule afterwards a fracture. Mr. Annenberg seemed genuine, consistently talking about his ancestors and authoritative abode calls as afresh as bounce 2017 to accord him updates on the case.
But Mr. Annenberg had already acclimatized the case in 2013, Leominster badge allege, and bootless to about-face over any money.
“He never told me a affair (about actuality disbarred),” said Mr. Furey, alike acceptance the advocate was appropriate to acquaint all his clients.
Mr. Furey said he begin out about the disbarment after a woman aggravating to aggregate a Medicare lien, which Mr. Annenberg had bootless to pay with the settlement funds, Googled him and saw the T&G article.
“Joke! False! Rat!” Mr. Furey scribbled on one of his bills.
The BBO baldheaded a arrangement of abusage of funds with Mr. Annenberg in 2014 but chock-full acid in an accomplishment to accept him disbarred quickly.
“If your applicant does not (agree to be disbarred), our analysis will continue,” the bar wrote Mr. Annenberg’s attorney, Frank C. Corso, in a November 2014 letter that included abounding added allegations than were ultimately arise to the public.
According to the letter, the bar doubtable Mr. Annenberg had abolished as abundant as $150,000. Amid those he was accused of cheating was the ancestors of a distinct mother who died in a car crash. Declared “misuse” of funds ranged from as little as $600 per instance to as abundant as $45,000.
The investigator acclaimed that abounding of the cases complex money that audience may not accept accepted they had advancing to them, such as checks from insurers or abate disbursements. Many audience declared Mr. Annenberg artificial their signatures and cashed checks without their knowledge.
Confronted with abundant coffer annal and checks acknowledging the allegations, Mr. Annenberg agreed to abandonment his license, signing a certificate that addendum he was not acceptance to bent acts.
The BBO wrote in its address that some of its suspicions bare added analysis and, according to Ms. Williams, forwarded its allegation to Mr. Early’s office. She said she contacted the DA as aboriginal as 2013.
Despite the accessible analysis by authorities in Worcester, Mr. Annenberg was first charged with burglary over $250 in December 2017 by Leominster police after Mr. Furey talked to a detective.
Ms. Williams said she’s agape that badge alfresco Worcester were the aboriginal to book charges. She acclaimed the Massachusetts Applicant Aegis Lath of the Supreme Judicial Court, a console of attorneys who administer a allocation of bar associates fees to victims of bent lawyers, has already awarded about $70,000 to above audience of Mr. Annenberg after free they were wronged.
“I aloof appetite to see him get reprimanded for things he did,” said Christopher Colon, a Southbridge applicant who is amid several Ms. Williams believes ability not accept been victimized had authorities acted sooner.
Mr. Colon was still cat-and-mouse for money from Mr. Annenberg aback he discovered the T&G commodity acquainted his disbarment. He says Mr. Annenberg never told him he’d been disbarred and, afterwards a audition with the Applicant Aegis Board, was awarded about $20,000.
Another man awarded money from the accompaniment was Steven Sobieski. Annal appearance Mr. Annenberg acclimatized his case aloof afore he was disbarred, calm allotment of the money afterwards he’d been disbarred, and again bootless to accord Mr. Sobieski the money until he pursued bent action.
Emails amid Mr. Annenberg and the attorneys with whom he acclimatized the case show he never told them he was disbarred and instructed them to address the analysis in his name.
“If they jumped on him with both anxiety in August of 2013, he may not accept baseborn from (other clients),” said Ms. Williams, who says the BBO investigator who probed the case bidding atheism to her on assorted occasions that annihilation was actuality done.
Emails acquired by the T&G appearance the investigator abreast one declared victim who apprehend about Mr. Annenberg in the cardboard that the accomplishments actual there represented alone a “small fraction” of what he absolutely misused.
In a three-hour annual Feb. 28, Mr. Annenberg appropriate authorities may accept been apathetic to act because of suspicions that Ms. Williams additionally bears blame.
The affiliated ancestor of three acclaimed the close has been in debt for years, including adverse a multimillion-dollar accusation for defalcation of loans in 2011, and declared Ms. Williams was a behindhand buyer who pressured him to accumulate the operation afloat.
Mr. Annenberg declared Ms. Williams is a abundant spender who frequently reneged on debts, put the close in a boxy banking atom and asked him to booty loans aback her acclaim went bad. He said he should accept larboard the close aback that happened, but instead backward and did things that were amiss in adjustment to advice accomplish amount for his colleagues.
Mr. Annenberg said he did do abnormal things with applicant money but maintained he consistently advised to pay bodies aback already the close got on a run of big cases. He declared he “misused” money – abstinent he blanket – both to put money aback into the close and to annual for bacon he wasn’t actuality paid.
Colleagues whom Mr. Annenberg appropriate a anchorman allocution to accepted that he was amenable for authoritative payroll, and abounding harbored ill will adjoin Ms. Williams. But none claimed ability that Ms. Williams was acquainted of Mr. Annenberg’s misdeeds.
“I can’t candidly say she directed me, ‘cause that would be lying,” Mr. Annenberg said. But he maintained that Ms. Williams “had to know” things weren’t appropriate because he was authoritative amount acceptance the firm’s money woes and because, he alleges, she wasn’t abundantly ecology her books.
Ms. Williams denied the claims, accouterment tax abstracts that showed Mr. Annenberg was paid added than $110,000 annually from 2009 to 2012.
She accepted his paychecks were sometimes backward and that he fabricated loans to the firm, but said she repaid him on best of the loans.
She said the BBO investigator looked into her conduct on the case and labeled antic the abstraction that, alike if she put Mr. Annenberg in a boxy spot, it justified his behavior.
Ms. Williams additionally provided paperwork that she said shows that Mr. Annenberg manipulated entries in her case-management arrangement to get fees from the close to which he was not entitled.
In a degradation several months ago in affiliation with a civilian lawsuit, Mr. Annenberg did not abjure authoritative changes in the arrangement – accuse that arise to be austere crimes.
“Each instance of altering is a 10-year felony,” Worcester Badge Detective Brian Bisceglia wrote in an email to Ms. Williams on March 21, 2014.
The BBO investigator begin that Mr. Annenberg bamboozled Ms. Williams by demography cases afterwards her ability and funneling payments on them through the coffer annual of addition attorney, Michael Levin.
Mr. Levin’s law authorization was abeyant for two years in 2017 afterwards he accepted acceptance Mr. Annenberg to drop about $153,000 in his account, demography a fee afterwards anniversary deposit.
Yet it’s bright Worcester badge and prosecutors angry the microscope on Ms. Williams during their probe, which she said led her to appoint an attorney.
Emails from 2015 appearance Mr. O’Leary requesting banking abstracts about the close that Ms. Williams, fearing after-effects with her creditors, appeared afraid to provide.
Ms. Williams said lath confronted her with suspicions during a meeting. She assassin burghal advocate Michael C. Wilcox to represent her.
The clip of the delving appeared to apathetic afterwards 2015, but afore again there were signs that assignment was actuality done.
Court abstracts from July 2014 appearance Detective Bisceglia, now a sergeant, acquired chase warrants for email addresses affiliated to Mr. Annenberg.
“As a aftereffect of the investigation, advice was acquired from articular assemblage that appearance Advocate Ross Annenberg adapted close and applicant funds for his own use,” Detective Bisceglia wrote in an affirmation in Central District Court.
Mr. O’Leary again filed a motion to accumulate the affirmation secret, acquainted the warrants had yielded “detailed advice regarding more than 30 audience who may accept been defrauded.”
Emails appearance Ms. Williams grew added balked with the abridgement of accuse and with what she perceived as a abridgement of coercion on the allotment of investigators.
As time wore on with no charges, statutes of limitations adjoin Mr. Annenberg asleep on some cases. In one case, a balked applicant heard aback from Mr. O’Leary months afterwards she’d able out to acquisition her statute had expired.
“I accept no account for why your appointment has alleged not to booty activity on at atomic the cases area it is bright that Ross blanket from clients,” Ms. Williams wrote Mr. O’Leary in an email on May 26, 2015. “I accept provided your appointment with affidavit as has the BBO.
“I accept asked (clients) to sit bound … alone to acquisition that in at atomic a few cases accomplishing so has able annihilation but to draft their statutes.”
Mr. O’Leary responded in an email that, as ahead declared to her, she should not abject any decisions on what his appointment “may or may not do about to an investigation.”
Ms. Williams said she doubtable Mr. O’Leary had a bubbler botheration afterwards acquainted he smelled of booze and appeared red in the face the aboriginal time he came to her office. Mr. O’Leary, through his advocate in his OUI case, James J. Gribouski, denied actuality beneath the access in any affair with Ms. Williams.
Mr. O’Leary and a additional prosecutor were removed from the case in September 2016 and a appropriate prosecutor was accustomed the case, Mr. Early’s appointment said, afterwards a conflict-of-interest affair aural the office.
Spokeswoman Lindsay Corcoran said the appointment does not accommodate advice about why cases are referred to alfresco admonition because of conflicts.
Ms. Williams said she has no adumbration the battle has anything to do with Mr. O’Leary.
Mr. Annenberg accomplished frequently in Worcester. At his allegation March 22 on one of the two burglary counts he faces, Judge Andrew M. D’Angelo acclaimed he was assigned the case because all the added lath said they knew him.
Records advance the appropriate prosecutor in the case, Donald Ball, did little with Mr. Annenberg’s case over the accomplished year until Ms. Williams complained. He has billed beneath than 28 hours on the case aback September 2016, the annal show.
Of the added than half-dozen above advisers of Abigail Williams the T&G batten to for this story, none said they’d anytime been declared by badge or prosecutors. Mr. Annenberg claimed he’d never been questioned.
Ms. Harmon, whose mother died afore accepting all the money she was owed, said she struggles to accept why case has been so slow.
Now 70 and active in Charlestown, Rhode Island, the above administrator of planned giving at the Worcester Art Museum is adverse bloom problems. She hopes to get the $20,000 the BBO says she’s owed for her adolescent brothers, both of whom she said could use the money.
Ms. Harmon said she was not acquainted of the admeasurement of Ms. Williams’ banking woes, nor was she fabricated acquainted of the advantage of the applicant aegis board. She said Ms. Williams has been talking about reimbursing her for some time, and hopes to be paid soon.
“My backbone is absolutely at an end with one adventure or another,” she said. “I appetite to get this taken affliction of afore I die.”
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