John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ROBERT J. BARRY, 78, of Woodbury, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to 21 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, the first six months of which Barry must serve in home confinement, for stealing from his elderly client trust accounts.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Barry was a partner in the law firm of Sturges and Mathes, located in Southbury. The firm specialized in trust and estates work, and Barry headed that practice. As part of his practice, Barry drafted trust agreements for clients designating himself as successor trustee in the event of the client’s death or incapacity. He also prepared wills for clients that named Barry as executor of the client’s estate upon death.
Beginning in June 2010 and continuing until approximately December 2015, Barry engaged in a scheme to defraud an elderly victim by stealing money from the victim’s client trust accounts while the victim was alive, and then stealing money from the victim’s estate after the victim died. Barry, in his role as executor and successor trustee for the victim, directed Sturges and Mathes staff members to prepare checks drawn on the victim’s accounts payable to the Sturges and Mathes operating account. Once the money was deposited into the firm’s operating account, Barry directed staff to cut a check against the firm operating account payable to a special account in the firm’s name over which Barry had exclusive control. Barry then wrote himself checks from the special account to his personal bank account.
In furtherance of the scheme, Barry caused numerous false and misleading statements to be sent to the victim and the victim’s residual beneficiary about the disposition of assets.
Through this scheme, Barry stole more than $2.4 million from the victim and the victim’s estate.
In order to hide the excess fees that he had taken, Barry also caused a false federal estate tax return to be filed with the IRS. The tax return underreported the amount of the victim’s estate by approximately $937,000.
Judge Chatigny ordered Barry to pay $2,440,285 to the victim’s estate, and $1,507,240 to residual beneficiaries of other estate clients.
On September 5, 2018, Barry pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
Barry, who is released on a $100,000 bond, was ordered to report to prison on September 3, 2019.
This matter was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Wines and Jennifer Laraia.