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Detective finds ex-lawyer accused of stealing client’s money

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

Diane S. Avery had to go somewhere after skipping town with $20,000 of a client’s money, so a detective from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office began looking in the most likely places — and quickly found the disbarred Ridgefield attorney, authorities said.

Her Social Security number pointed to a Michigan birthplace. Her maiden name narrowed the search. And her dead father’s previous address nailed it.

Sheriff’s officers in Michigan picked up Avery, 58, and are holding her pending an extradition hearing.

Diane Avery (mugshot courtesy B.C.P.O.)

Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said the victim had given Avery $31,565.60 from her grandmother’s estate to be placed in a trust account in December 1996.

She began receiving periodic disbursements “until suddenly and without notice or warning, these disbursements stopped in April of 2007,” Molinelli said.

The victim couldn’t find Avery — but did notice $20,150.19 missing from the client’s account. The state Office of Attorney Ethics was contacted and suspended Avery in March 2008. She was later disbarred.

A warrant for Avery’s arrest was issued last week, after Molinelli’s detective tracked her down. Members of the Allegan County Sheriff’s Office took it from there.

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