Federal judge sentences Rockland attorney Burton Dorfman to six months in prison
A Rockland attorney was sentenced Monday to six months in federal prison for lying to federal Labor Department investigators looking into accusations he stole money from a profit-sharing plan at his former law firm.
Burton Dorfman, once a prominent development and investment lawyer, also must repay the fund $212.429, pay a $25,000 fine and $100 court fee under the sentence imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Cathy Seibel at the White Plains federal courthouse.
The judge also placed Dorfman on supervised release for two years after his sentence ends and recommended Dorfman serve his time in a medical facility because of what his lawyer called a severe heart condition.
Dorfman pleaded guilty in September to the federal charge. Dorfman, 63, a lawyer in New York since 1979, admitted making false statements to a U.S. Department of Labor investigator looking into allegations Dorfman made a prohibited transaction involving a profit-sharing plan that was set up for the law firm, with his former partners, Kevin Conway and Robert Knoebel, a Nyack justice, being victimized.
Conway and Knoebel were not aware of Dorfman’s maneuvering. The firm disbanded.
Dorfman faced 18 to 24 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, which take into account any criminal history, the extent of the crime and other circumstances. A judge can go above or below the suggested sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David Maimin recommended the sentencing range in a memorandum to Seibel.
Dorfman must pay the remainder of the restitution within 90 days and the fine at $2,000 per month during his supervised release, according to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office. His sentence begins April 19, a Bharara spokeswoman said.
Dorfman’s attorney, Kerry Lawrence, said he asked for a non-prison sentence and argued Dorfman has repaid portions of what he stole in his sentencing memorandum to Seibel.
“We accept the judge’s sentence but believe sending Mr. Dorfman to prison was not necessary under the circumstances,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence, a former federal prosecutor in Manhattan, said the judge recommended Dorfman serve his six months in a medical facility due to what Lawrence called Dorfman’s “very signficant heart disease.”
Dorfman had administered the profit-sharing plan and lied apparently to hide a prohibited transaction, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office sentencing memorandum. Dorfman caused the plan and a related pension fund to lend the “vast, vast majority of their assets” — $878,784 — to the firm.
Lawrence said Dorfman has started repaying Knoebel his restitution — which Lawrence’s memorandum states hit $185,719. Conway was entitled to $7,486, but indicated in a letter to the court that he has no interest in receiving
any restitution, Lawrence’s memorandum states.
The Rockland District Attorney’s Office began investigating Dorfman a few years ago, initially over his investments in a Manhattan development. When the case expanded, the DA’s office brought the FBI into the case.
Dorfman wiil lose his law license. A graduate of SUNY-Buffalo Law School, Dorfman has no record of public discipline, according to the New York State Unified Court System website.
Dorfman has had an active practice in civil and criminal law in Rockland.
He recently represented one of the companies seeking to purchase the county’s Summit Park Hospital, a sale that never went through but involved legal actions between competing companies and later the county government. The county has closed down the hospital, which led to nearly 400 people losing their jobs and patients transferred to other facilities.
Dorfman also represented Brega Transport Corp. in Clarkstown during the company’s legal fight to take over operations of Rockland County’s TOR and Tappan ZEExpress bus systems. Brega operates both lines.