NEW BRUNSWICK - A Woodbridge lawyer who admitted stealing from two clients over housing deals now faces a five-year prison term and must repay $310,000 to the clients, authorities said today.
In one case the lawyer, 64-year-old Richard Zuvich, admitted taking the proceeds from the sale of his client’s house, Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey said in a statement.
In the second case, Zuvich secretly negotiated the settlement of an insurance claim for a client’s house that was destroyed in a fire, and then stole the money from the settlement, Carey said.
On Monday, Zuvich ,who lives in Metuchen and has a law office in Woodbridge, pleaded guilty before Superior Court Judge Pedro Jimenez to two counts two counts of misapplication of entrusted property, the prosecutor said.
Zuvich also pleaded guilty to charges of unlawful taking and theft by deception.
Under a plea agreement, Zuvich is expected to receive a five-year prison term when he sentenced in February, according to Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Christine D’Eliasaid, who handled the case.
Zuvich must also pay $310,000 in restitution to the two clients.
In one case, he took the proceeds from a house sale, put the funds into a trust account, and then withdrew proceeds for his own personal gain without the clients’ authorization, prosecutors said.
In the second case, Zuvich admitted he negotiated an insurance settlement for a client’s house that burn down without her consent or knowledge, authorities said. They said Zurich then stole the settlement money.
Zuvich, who was admitted to the New Jersey State Bar in 1980, had his license suspended on May 30, 2017, following a petition filed by the Office of Attorney Ethics to the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
Investigators determined the lawyer stole stole client funds between May 8, 2015 and July 2017. The case was investigated by Woodbridge police Detective Andrew Kondracki and Detective Christopher Pennisi of the prosecutor’s office.
An attempt to reach Zuvich for a comment Tuesday was unsuccessful.