California Estate Attorney Stole From Trusts Set Up For the Elderly

Posted on Mar 03, 2014

On February 12, 2014, the U.S. Justice Department reported that a former California trusts and estates attorney was sentenced to 64 months in prison for stealing from the estate of an elderly woman. The attorney, Philip Eric Myers, pled guilty to mail fraud and wire fraud in September 2013. He was also ordered to pay restitution amounting to $1,081,000.

Prior to his sentencing in the federal case, Myers had already been convicted in three separate cases involving theft from elderly and dependent adults in California. In each case, Myers had set up trusts for the benefit of his elderly clients. He then embezzled money from these trusts for his own benefit. He was disbarred from the practice of law in California in February 2013.

Myers was able to carry out his scheme by meeting and building a relationship with Mrs. Juanita Gielarowski and her daughter, Linda Stowers. He was drawn to this particular family through co-defendant Brian Ben Israel, who worked as a nurse at the Meridian Psychiatric Consulting Group. Mr. Israel had seen Mrs. Gielarowski’s financial records and determined that she would be a good target. He served not only as a healthcare provider but also as a financial advisor for the two women. He worked alongside Myers to gain control over their assets, which were placed into a revocable trust in which Ben Israel was a trustee. The two men reportedly stole more than $2.8 million by the time the scheme was completed.

Shockingly, Myers withdrew $1 million from Mrs. Gielarowski’s trust in 2007 to pay off a 2005 civil judgment and settlement resulting from his theft from the Rose T. Heil Trust. He had convinced Ms. Stowers that he would pay the money back within 90 days. She then became concerned about the lack of funds in the trust. Eventually, several properties owned by Mrs. Gielarowski were foreclosed upon, and she was removed from her home and placed in a state-run elderly care facility until she died in 2010.

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