Albany-Area Town Justice Guilty Of Mishandling Trusts

Albany-Area Town Justice

Guilty Of Mishandling Trusts

 Related Case Against Cooperstown Man Still Pending
Richard Sherwood

ALBANY – The state Attorney General’s Office today announced the guilty plea of lawyer and former Town of Guilderland Judge Richard Sherwood for, with an alleged co-conspirator, extracting over $11 million from family trusts they were responsible for overseeing.

Sherwood pleaded guilty before Albany County Court Judge Peter A. Lynch to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a Class C felony). As a result of these charges, he previously resigned as Guilderland Town Judge. Sherwood faces up to three to 10 years in prison.

As detailed in the complaint, since at least 2006, Sherwood and alleged co-conspirator Thomas Lagan of Cooperstown provided estate planning and related legal and financial services to Capital Region philanthropists Warren and Pauline Bruggeman and Pauline Bruggeman’s sister, Anne Urban. In 2011, the Anne S. Urban Irrevocable Trust (AUIT) was created using some of the funds from the Bruggeman trusts with Sherwood named trustee and Lagan named successor trustee.

In the specific instance to which Sherwood pleaded guilty, a sub-trust with approximately $2 million was to be returned to the Pauline Bruggeman Revocable Trust for distribution to six named charities upon Anne’s death. After Urban died in 2013, the state is alleging the funds were disposed of through the AUIT, primarily for the benefit of Sherwood and Lagan.

The state further alleges the two men conspired to deceive an Ohio attorney into sending over $2 million of Julia Rentz’s money to the AUIT under the premise that it would be sent to charity, but  Sherwood and Lagan allegedly shared those proceeds. Sherwood and Lagan allegedly formed the Empire Capital Trust to benefit themselves and funded it with over $1 million of stolen money. In January 2015, they allegedly transferred $3,598,908 from AUIT to a Trustco Bank account in Sherwood’s name and $2,693,865.92 from the AUIT to a Trustco Bank account in Lagan’s name.

Sherwood has agreed to forfeit $3,742,211.65 that has already been seized from him, as well as the residence on Galway Lake that previously belonged to the Bruggemans. Sherwood also pleaded guilty in federal court to money laundering and filing false federal tax returns.

The charges against Lagan are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law, the press release said.

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