“Vanished” NYC Real Estate Partner’s Legal Trouble Mounting

Manhattan real estate lawyer, Mitchell Kossoff, has not been heard from since April 1, seemingly vanishing into thin air. Now he’s facing lawsuits from clients alleging the theft of millions of dollars in escrow funds and the resignations of multiple lawyers from his NYC firm.

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Lawyers at the law firm say they have heard no communication from Kossof, and are not receiving paychecks, according to a Law360 report. An involuntary bankruptcy petition filed against Kossoff PLLC alleges more than $8 million in misappropriated escrow funds, while the Manhattan district attorney has also opened an investigation.

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams of the Southern District of New York said Friday she will grant an injunction barring Kossoff from accessing three bank accounts, but according to court documents, there is only about $120,000 left in them. She is presiding in a case filed April 12 by Miami developer Gran Sabana Corp. that seeks to recover $4.5 million in escrow funds. A lawyer representing the company told Abrams that she thinks more than $17 million has been stolen.

Judge Jennifer Schecter of New York state court is presiding in several other lawsuits and issued an April 13 order effectively freezing various bank accounts as well.

These actions come as four landlords filed an involuntary bankruptcy petition against Kossoff accusing him of disappearing with $8 million in escrow funds, court records show. The full client list includes Gran Sabana Corporation, United American Land, Thomas Sneva, and Louis and Jeanmarie Giordano.

In emails submitted with one Manhattan Supreme Court suit, Kossoff wrote that his accounts were frozen in recent months so he couldn’t give back the money, but was reaching out to his mother to “secure alternate funds to wire to you.”

Walter Mack, a lawyer for Kossoff, told Law360 that his client has not fled and is not seeking to evade prosecutors. He said he is representing Kossoff “solely should there be any criminal law consequences of his conduct.”

“Every couple of years you have one of these cases where an attorney runs off with his client’s money,” said one landlord familiar with Kossoff’s case, speaking only on the condition of anonymity.

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