A Huntington attorney was arrested Tuesday and charged with stealing money from two clients, Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney said.
Daphna Zekaria, 54, of Syosset, a partner at the Huntington law firm
of Sokolski and Zekaria, P.C., was accused of taking more than $200,000 from clients, including a New York State lottery winner.
“The allegations against this defendant represent an egregious violation of the trust that the victims placed in her as an attorney and a fiduciary,” Tierney said. “The duties and responsibilities of attorney-client relationships are a critically essential element of our legal system, and my office will not tolerate individuals using their law degrees as licenses to steal.”
According to the investigation, in December 2021, Zekaria was hired by a New York State Lottery winner and allegedly promised to hold a portion of her client’s money in the firm’s escrow account and invest an additional portion on his behalf. Instead of holding the money or investing it, she made large transfers to other individuals which she would not have been able to make, had her client’s funds not been deposited into her account. Zekaria collected a total
of $230,000 from the victim in three separate transactions.
In March, Zekaria was retained by a Manhattan woman to assist her in contesting eviction proceedings.
Zekaria took $17,500 from the victim to represent her but allegedly performed no legal work for her. When the woman asked for her money back, the defendant had already allegedly spent the money on LIPA payments, and credit card bills.
Zekaria is charged with Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class C felony; Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a Class D felony and Scheme to Defraud, a Class E felony. She is also charged with Criminal Contempt in the Second Degree, a Class A misdemeanor for allegedly failing to comply with a grand jury subpoena for records related to her dealings with the victims.
Zekaria was arrested Tuesday by investigators of the Suffolk County District
Attorney’s Office and arraigned on the indictment before County Court Judge
Stephen L. Braslow who ordered Zekaria be released on her own recognizance and placed on supervised release. Her next court date is on De. 13.
If you believe you are a victim of Zekaria, please call the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office at (631) 853-4626.