ALBION – An Albion attorney avoided incarceration today, but will spend five years on probation, pay nearly $50,000 in restitution and also do 200 hours of community service.
Kevin R. Allen, 32, was sentenced this morning in Orleans County Court by Judge Charles Zambito.
Allen, the judge noted, did not take any funds for drugs, gambling or some extravagant purchase.
However, his scheme of using some clients’ funds to pay money owed to other clients created hardships for many of the clients, costing them money and shaking their confidence in a person they expected to be their advocate.
“People put their trust in you,” Zambito told Allen. “That’s what lawyers are there for.”
Allen has been an “overachiever” most of his life, from becoming an Eagle Scout to going to law school to opening his own law office in his hometown, his attorney Michael Dwan told the court.
However, Allen suffered from depression and was no longer able to function as a lawyer, to file the proper paperwork and keep cases moving along for clients, Dwan said.
Allen sank into a deeper depression after his wife’s miscarriage and his mother’s cancer diagnosis. He also struggled with the pressures of running a law office, from keeping the business going to wanting to be the best advocate for his clients, who were often in crisis, Dwan said.
Dwan asked for probation and community service for Allen, with no jail time.
The special prosecutor in the case, Ryan Parisi, said nine people are owed restitution totaling $49,851. Allen has paid back other people as well who went to the police.
He will cash out his $15,000 retirement plan to reduce the $49,851, and then he will pay back $750 a month.
Three of the victims spoke in court today. Bonnie Pescara is owed $33,261. She said she sent Allen money for her car payment for two years and he diverted those funds, to the point where her vehicle was repossessed and her credit ruined.
He didn’t complete important paperwork in other matters, leading to stress and aggravation that she said has taken a toll on her health.
She asked the judge to give him the maximum sentence, 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison.
Another victim, Gregory Poole, is owed $11,590. He said Allen’s failure to follow through with legal paperwork, “has stood my life upside down.”
Anthony Palermo, another victim, said Allen’s delinquency cost Palermo “a lot of money.”
“I hired him to do a job for me and he never did it,” Palermo said. “It was dragged out a long time and I lost everything. I was lied to a long time.”
Allen apologized to his clients today in court, and also to his family. He said he would be turning over all files from his office to the Orleans County Bar Association.
“I’ve disappointed multiple people and it is with great sadness that I say that,” Allen said during sentencing. “I should have asked for help and I didn’t. I wasn’t in the right mental health state.”
Allen said he wishes he had referred people to other lawyers, and stepped back while he was struggling with what he said were multiple mental health issues.
“I never intended to hurt anyone or cause them financial difficulties,” he said.
Zambito said he didn’t think jail or prison was necessary for Allen, who has surrendered his law license and will be on probation while making restitution.
The judge said Allen fully cooperated with the prosecution.
“I hope you’re able to strengthen up your life,” Zambito said. “You’re obviously an intelligent man who worked hard to be a lawyer.”