TRENTON - Division of Criminal Justice Director Vaughn L. McKoy announced that a disbarred Burlington County attorney conducting business from an Essex County law office has been charged with stealing client escrow monies held in trust as a deposit for the purchase of residential real estate.
According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, E. Nkem Odinkemere, (DOB unknown], Quail Ridge Court, Medford, Burlington County, was charged via a State Grand Jury indictment with misapplication of entrusted property (3rd degree). A third degree crime carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in state prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The State Grand Jury indictment alleges that on Sept. 1, 2000, Odinkemere, conducting business from a law office formerly located at 1338 Springfield Avenue, Irvington, Essex County, misappropriated $5,000 in client escrow monies that were to be held in trust as a deposit for the purchase residential real estate. The indictment charges that instead of holding the funds in trust as required by the contract and state law, Odinkemere used the monies for personal expenses. Odinkemere was disbarred by the New Jersey Supreme Court on Jan. 19, 2005.
The indictment was handed up to Mercer County Superior Court Judge Maria Marinari Sypek on Aug. 8. The case will be assigned to the Essex County Superior Court for trial. Odinkemere will be ordered to appear in the Essex County Superior Court for arraignment and bail on a date to be determined. An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed to be innocent of the charges unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The investigation was conducted by the Division of Criminal Justice - Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor which investigates and prosecutes civil and criminal insurance fraud cases. State Investigator Scott Stevens and Deputy Attorney General Michael A. Monahan were assigned to the investigation. This case was referred to the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor by the Office of Attorney Ethics.