Sherwood’s co-conspirator, Lagan, pleads guilty

— From the Otsego County website

To be forfeited: Five properties are listed among the items that Lagan is to forfeit upon conviction. Only one of them, this one at 23 Lake Street in Cooperstown, was purchased after his arrest in February 2018. The Otsego County website gives its assessed value as $243,900. The other four properties Lagan is to forfeit were purchased earlier: two in the name of Empire Capital Trust, which the complaint filed in Albany County Court says Sherwood and Lagan set up to receive some of their stolen monies, and two by 2 Maple Street LLC, with filing information that lists Thomas Lagan as the contact person.

ALBANY COUNTY — Thomas Lagan, co-conspirator with former Guilderland town judge Richard Sherwood, pleaded guilty on April 30 in State Supreme Court to first-degree grand larceny, a felony, according to a release from the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

Lagan, a financial advisor and attorney, and Sherwood, at the time also an attorney in private practice as well as a town judge, had been charged with stealing more than $11 million from elderly clients whose trusts they managed together.

Asked if the threat of Sherwood’s testimony had caused Lagan to decide to plead guilty after many months of preparing to fight the charges, his attorney, E. Stewart Jones of E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, said, “Obviously, that was not helpful.”

Jones said that Lagan is still facing federal charges, and so he could not comment further “till all of this is behind him.”

Sherwood’s attorney, William Dreyer of Dreyer Boyajian LaMarche Safranko, declined to comment on Lagan’s plea, other than to say that it is true that Sherwood was planning to testify against him.

A federal trial against Lagan had been scheduled to start on June 13. In federal court, where Lagan has a plea hearing scheduled for May 15, he faces money-laundering and tax charges. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Barnett told The Enterprise earlier that, if convicted, Lagan would face up to 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of post-imprisonment supervised release.

Sherwood and Lagan handled the family trusts of Capital Region philanthropists Walter and Pauline Bruggeman’s two sisters, Anne Urban and Julia Rentz, all of whom were elderly and none of whom had any children. Sherwood and Lagan took monies that were intended to go from these trusts to charities and instead funneled them into accounts that they had set up in order to benefit themselves, court documents say.

In Albany County Court, Lagan faced charges of first-degree grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, and a scheme to defraud. He pleaded guilty before Judge Thomas Breslin. When Lagan is sentenced on the state charges on June 19, he faces up to 4 to 12 years in prison, according to the release from the office of Attorney General Letitia James.

Lagan will need to forfeit, according to a list included in the federal grand-jury indictment, a dozen bank accounts; five properties in Otsego County, three of them in Cooperstown; and four vehicles — a 2016 Mercedes Benz, a 2015 Jeep Wrangler, a 2015 Lexus, and a 2015 Sea-Doo jet ski; and a money judgment for $6,271,058.

Lagan can also expect to be disbarred. Attorneys who plead guilty to felony charges are automatically disbarred retroactive to the date of the guilty plea. The complaint filed in county court says that Lagan was admitted to the state bar in 1986, although his primary employment has been as a financial advisor and he was employed as an investment advisor with a national financial planning company during the time that most of the crimes were committed.

Lagan’s co-conspirator, Sherwood, is now scheduled to be sentenced in federal court on Oct. 2. Sherwood’s sentencing in county court had been scheduled for December 2018 but was postponed, Sherwood’s attorney, Dreyer told The Enterprise earlier, because the case against Lagan had not yet resolved.

Sherwood’s attorney, Dreyer, declined to answer Enterprise questions earlier about whether Sherwood’s sentence might be reduced in exchange for testifying against Lagan.

“I think the best thing for me to do is say nothing,” he said. ‘You seem to be able to draw conclusions from the documents.”

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