Ocean County attorney admits stealing millions from elderly clients
An Ocean County attorney who hosted radio show on elder law has pleaded guilty to stealing millions from elderly clients.
Robert Novy, 66, of Brick, pleaded guilty Friday to first-degree money laundering, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said.
Novy, who hosted “Inside the Law,” admitted stealing nearly $3 million from at least two dozen victims through his law firm, and then laundering the money through various bank accounts, including his attorney trust and business accounts.
Under the plea agreement, he faces 10 years in prison with three years and four months of parole ineligibility when he is sentenced Sept. 28.
The victims generally did not have close relatives to guard their interests and in some cases suffered from dementia.
“By exploiting elderly clients and stealing their life savings, Novy sank to the lowest levels of greed, dishonesty, and callousness,” Grewal said. “This guilty plea serves justice by ensuring that Novy will face a substantial prison sentence and that his victims will receive restitution from assets already seized from him by the Division of Criminal Justice.”
Novy, who taught seminars, must pay restitution to his victims out of two funds totaling $4 million that are being created using assets previously seized from him by the state.
That includes $1 million for victims not previously identified who come forward with proof they were victims.
Novy also must surrender his license to practice law in New Jersey and pay $500,000 to the state as an anti-money laundering profiteering penalty.
“A fundamental concern in this case was to secure restitution for Novy’s many victims, including his elderly clients and the heirs and beneficiaries who had millions of dollars stolen from them,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through this guilty plea, we have achieved that goal and have sent a strong message that lawyers and others who hold positions of trust will be held accountable if they betray that trust and steal from those who are vulnerable.”
The case was referred to the Division of Criminal Justice by Ocean County Surrogate Jeffrey W. Moran. Novy also was investigated by the New Jersey Office of Attorney Ethics, which issued an ethics complaint against him on Jan. 26, 2016, and assisted the Division of Criminal Justice.
The investigation revealed that Novy stole funds from elderly and deceased clients who often did not have a close relative to claim their estate or challenge Novy’s actions. He used the stolen funds for his own benefit, paying personal and business expenses.
Novy gained control through wills, powers of attorney, and trust documents, making himself the sole financial decision-maker for the clients. When clients had sizeable assets in the form of an annuity or life insurance policy, Novy directed insurance companies to redeem the policies and send the money directly to him.
In some cases, when challenged by trustees or relatives about particular funds that had been withdrawn from client accounts, Novy claimed they were “administrative errors” and repaid the funds.