A shameful attorney who smuggled millions of dollars from the estates of deceased elderly clients and moved them to a luxurious home in an eastern suburb is about to be jailed, a court heard.
Mark Leo O’Brien, 64, and his wife Therese O’Brien, 63, hung their heads when the Downing Center District Court heard details on Thursday about how they received more than $ 6.1 million from his Edgecliff-based resident Abused a law firm for a period of three years. Period.
O’Brien’s house of cards crashed in early 2019 when he was confronted by his firm’s partner Harrington, Maguire and O’Brien after they became suspicious of a four-bedroom, four-bathroom Bondi home valued at $ 3.4 million Having bought dollars.
He has pleaded guilty to eleven charges, including dishonestly obtaining financial advantage through deception and knowingly handling the proceeds of crime.
His wife has also pleaded guilty to knowingly handling crime proceeds after he confessed that he misused two clients’ money but failed to report it to authorities.
Therese O’Brien and Mark O’Brien arrive at Downing Center Court in Sydney. Image: NCA NewsWire / Joel Carrett
O’Brien has admitted to transferring funds from his law firm’s escrow accounts to his personal bank accounts from August 2015 to July 2018.
The money belonged to two deceased customers, much of whom were bequeathed to charities. However, O’Brien used it to repay two mortgages on his North Bondi unit and buy another home in Bondi in 2018, as well as $ 250,000 worth of home renovation and furniture.
The court heard Thursday that the Bondi home had since been sold and that Mr. O’Brien had repaid his misappropriated $ 6.1 million principal.
“If you steal money in Randwick and bet your last, you lose, there is nothing to recover,” said Judge Robert Sutherland.
“But if you buy a $ 3 million home and it grows in value per chance, there is something to recover.”
O’Brien’s attorney Christopher Watson told the court his client was likely facing imprisonment, arguing that his insult was motivated by a desire to care for his family.
“There was an aspect of him that wanted this to be a provider and a good provider,” said Watson.
“And satisfy that feeling of depression as his ability to be a good provider for his wife and family was challenged.”
Therese O’Brien and Mark O’Brien have pleaded guilty to fraud. Source: Instagram.
Judge Sutherland, however, said O’Brien was spurred on to flee more than $ 4.67 million from a deceased client from November 2017 to July 2018 for getting away with a similar program in 2015.
According to an agreed statement of fact, O’Brien’s theft began in August and September 2015 when he used $ 1.5 million a customer left with several charities, including the St. Vincent de Paul Society, to pay for the remaining $ 220,000. Dollar used on its North Bondi unit.
He admitted to police that he had $ 211 in his personal bank account at the time.
He put another $ 1 million into a self-managed pension fund.
According to court records, when O’Brien told his wife about his plan, he was “appalled” and told him to “postpone it” during an argument.
However, he told the police that they soon “agreed to this proposal, so we did that”.
Therese O’Brien has admitted that she knew her husband stole millions of dollars to buy her Bondi home. Source: Instagram.
Later asked by the police whether it was their right to spend stolen money, Therese O’Brien said, “No. Well, I think it was me because I did it.”
When the couple decided to put their North Bondi home on the market, O’Brien began stealing again from another client.
In late 2017, he used his power of attorney through her bank account to deposit $ 155,000 into his accounts.
Prior to her death in January 2018, Ms. O’Brien named executor of her $ 6.6 million estate.
In mid-2018, he deposited additional checks for US $ 1.77 million and US $ 2.74 million given to the St. Vincent de Paul Society in his personal accounts.
O’Brien went to great lengths to cover his tracks, create fake entries in his law firm’s ledger, and forge letters and receipts from various charities.
They used the money to buy and renovate their home on Woodstock Street in Bondi.
Therese O’Brien initially objected to the theft of the money by her husband.
“You can’t do this, Mark, you did it before, you can’t do it again,” she said to him.
However, she later made several purchases in furniture and homeware stores. Her husband later told police that they were spending about $ 40,000 on furniture.
Both will be sentenced on March 12th.
Originally published as an attorney facing a prison with over $ 6 million fraud