Modified: March 4, 2015 9:51am
Erie County District Attorney Frank A. Sedita, III announces that 57 year-old Dennis McGrath of Walbridge Drive in Town of Hamburg pleaded guilty as charged to Unauthorized Practice of Law and Grand Larceny in the Second Degree before Erie County Court Judge Kenneth F. Case. These are the highest charges for which McGrath could have been convicted had he gone to trial. In other words, McGrath did not receive a so-called “plea bargain” and was instead prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
McGrath has been practicing law in Erie County for over 15 years; however, he is not admitted to practice law in New York State. Instead, McGrath held himself out as an attorney and represented both private clients and indigent clients.
From January 1, 2001 to December 2013, McGrath was paid $164,485 representing indigent clients for the Erie County Bar Association Aid to Indigent Prisoners’ Society Inc., aka the “assigned counsel program.” In other words, law-abiding taxpayers -- already called upon to finance legal representation for criminal defendants who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer themselves-- were defrauded of nearly $165,000 while McGrath was under the keen supervision of the assigned counsel program.
McGrath faces a maximum of 15 years in state prison when he is sentenced on March 27, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. before Judge Case.
The investigation was spearheaded and the case successfully prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Candace K. Vogel, who is assigned to DA Sedita’s Financial Crimes Bureau.