• Lynda Cohen

Ex-Ocean County attorney gets 10 years for bilking elderly clients of millions

Updated: May 14

A former Ocean County attorney who hosted a radio show and gave seminars about elder law was sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing millions from elderly clients. Robert Novy, 67, hosted “Inside the Law,” a bimonthly radio program that focused on topics of concern to senior citizens. In July, he admitted stealing nearly $3 million from at least two dozen elderly victims through his law firm, and then laundering the money through various bank accounts, including his attorney trust and business accounts. The victims generally did not have close relatives to guard their interests and in some cases suffered from dementia, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal said. “Novy preyed upon vulnerable seniors who trusted him as their attorney to guard their interests. Instead, he callously stole their life savings, betraying their trust and the oath he took to uphold the law,” Grewal said. “We have secured justice with this lengthy prison sentence and have ensured that his victims will receive restitution from the assets we seized from him during our investigation.” Novy must pay restitution to his victims out of two funds totaling created using assets previously seized from him by the state. A $3 million fund is to pay those client victims, heirs, estates and trusts already identified through the state’s investigation. A second fund million-dollar fund will provide restitution, with court approval, for others not previously identified who come forward with proof that they were victims of thefts. Novy surrendered his license to practice law in New Jersey and must pay $500,000 to the state as an anti-money laundering profiteering penalty. Deputy Attorneys General Peter Gallagher and William Conlow prosecuted Novy and handled the sentencing for the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau. Novy was indicted in an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Financial & Computer Crimes Bureau, assisted by the New Jersey Division of Taxation Office of Criminal Investigation. The Brick resident was arrested on Oct. 18, 2016. Detectives executed a search warrant at the time at his firm, Novy & Associates, on Ridgeway Avenue in Manchester, seizing billing records and other evidence. “This sentence sends a strong deterrent message that lawyers and other licensed professionals will be vigorously prosecuted if they violate their fiduciary duty and steal from clients,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “I commend the attorneys and detectives in the Division of Criminal Justice who skillfully documented Novy’s schemes to drain the assets of his victims.” 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. Novy 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, Grewal said. 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.

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