Connecticut: Woodbury attorney accused of stealing $1.8 million from woman’s estate

National Association to Stop Guardian Abuse

A Woodbury man is facing federal theft charges after officials say he stole $1.8 million, most of which was slated for charity, from the estate of an Oxford woman

Peter M. Clark, 57, was arrested Thursday, according to a release from Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and charged with stealing from the estate of Miriam S. Strong, who died July 2, 2010.

At the time of her death, Strong had a will, which left money, property and other items to a list of individuals, the town of Oxford, the state of Connecticut and several religious and other charitable entities, according to the release. The will also called for the creation of a scholarship fund for college-bound students from Oxford.

Clark drafted the will as Strong’s attorney and served as a witness to Strong’s execution of the will, officials said. The will named Clark and another individual as co-executors. The investigation has revealed that, during the course of the administration of the will, Clark took at least $1.8 million from Strong’s estate for his own use.

Clark transferred some of the money to other accounts, used some to buy himself an all-terrain vehicle and gave some money to his wife, according to court documents. The estate account he had taken the money from was left with a meager balance of $13.40 when he had to make a report to the probate court, officials said. Court documents show that some of the beneficiaries of the will became suspicious when they had not received the money they had been told they would get and contacted the probate court, which in turn removed Clark as an executor while the investigation was under way.

The complaint charges Clark with one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Clark was arrested Thursday morning at his home in Woodbury, officials said. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah A.L. Merriam in New Haven and will be released after he posts a $500,000 bond that will be co-signed by family members

Daly stressed that a complaint is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Connecticut State Police – Western District Major Crime Squad. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah P. Karwan.

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