A well-respected elder law attorney in New Jersey who offered seminars on end of life affairs pleaded guilty on Monday to first degree money laundering, admitting she stole millions of dollars from elderly clients. According to the State of New Jersey Office of the Attorney General’s November 3, 2014 News Release, Barbara Lieberman is expected to receive a 10-year prison sentence and must forfeit her law license and $3 million to pay restitution to the victims. Charges are still pending against Jan Van Holt, a social worker and owner of A Better Choice, which provided in-home services and legal/financial planning to seniors, and two others.
Ms. Lieberman reportedly targeted elderly clients with substantial assets but often with no immediate family. It is alleged that Ms. Van Holt referred clients to Ms. Lieberman and vice versa.
Lieberman would prepare the documents naming herself or another defendant as power of attorney. The defendants then allegedly added their names to the victim’s bank account or transferred the victim’s funds into new accounts they controlled. . . . A portion of the money was used to fund the victim’s continued expenses to keep the victim unaware of the thefts. In some cases, money from one victim would be transferred to another victim to pay expenses and cover up the thefts. If the victim owned stocks or bonds, they were cashed out and the funds were deposited into the account allegedly controlled by the defendants. . . . Lieberman also prepared wills for some of the victims, and she or Van Holt would execute the wills, allegedly continuing to steal from the estates of the victims after they died.
We at LPR are sickened by this report of an attorney taking advantage of one of our societies most vulnerable. The elderly should beware of this cautionary tale, but so should others. Be forward thinking and make sure you have in place some check and balance to ensure that nothing like this happens to you or the ones you love.