FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 26, 2023
Former Paralegal Indicted for Embezzling Over $400,000
from Brooklyn Law Firm
Defendant Allegedly Stole Settlement Money Belonging to Clients
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a former Brooklyn paralegal has been charged with embezzling more than $400,000 from the law firm where he worked. The defendant allegedly stole from the firm’s Interest On Lawyer Account (IOLA) fund, which contained settlement money belonging to firm clients, and then used the money to pay personal expenses, including credit card bills.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant allegedly violated the trust of his firm’s clients by stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars to which he was not entitled. Criminal misconduct cannot be tolerated in the legal profession, and we are committed to holding this defendant accountable for his alleged fraud. I thank the U.S. Department of Homeland Securities Investigations for their assistance with the case.”
HSI New York Special Agent in Charge Ivan J. Arvelo said, “As alleged, Steven Cher exploited his trusted position as a paralegal with the Law Office of Yuriy Prakhin to embezzle over $400,000 from several of the firm’s clients. Financial fraud and embezzlement are not victimless crimes. Those who are defrauded often suffer financial and emotional turmoil as they seek to recover from the offenses against them. The success of this investigation highlights the importance of collaborative law enforcement partnerships to apprehend these types of perpetrators and grant justice for their victims. I am especially grateful to HSI New York’s Document & Benefit Fraud Task Force and the Kings County District Attorney’s Office for their work in this investigation.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Steven Cher, a.k.a., Vladislav Cherednichenko, 48, recently of Leander, Texas. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with second-degree grand larceny, second-degree money laundering, first-degree identity theft, and thirty-two counts of first-degree falsifying business records. The defendant was released on his own recognizance and ordered to return to court on May 1, 2023.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, from 2015 to 2018, the defendant worked as a paralegal at the Law Office of Yuriy Prakhin where he assisted in handling settlement checks to clients. It is alleged the defendant stole over $400,000 from the IOLA account. He deposited approximately $288,611 of these funds into a bank account that he opened in the name of another person. The defendant also allegedly diverted 16 checks worth $127,524 made out to clients of the firm into bank account in his own name. Furthermore, it is alleged the defendant used the embezzled funds on travel and restaurants, as well as to pay his credit card bills.
The defendant was arrested in Tennessee earlier this month and waived extradition to New York.
The investigation was conducted by the Kings County District Attorney’s Office with assistance from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations.
The District Attorney thanked Deputy Joseph Reiber of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office in Tennessee for his assistance with the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Abigail Rosen of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Gavin Miles, Bureau Chief of Intake and Case Assessment, Gregory Pavlides, Bureau Chief of Frauds, Michel Spanakos, Deputy Chief of the Investigations Division, and Assistant District Attorney Patricia McNeill, Chief of the Investigations Division.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.