An Israeli conman posed as a member of the Mossad to swipe $5 million from lawyer escrow accounts — and then used some of the dough to rent a pad for his mistress, authorities said Monday.
Eli Luski, 53, is a “master manipulator” who falsely claimed to work for the federal Department of Homeland Security and before that, the Israeli intelligence agency to lure in accomplices, said Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Sarah Sacks at the suspect’s bail hearing.
Luski recruited two co-defendants lawyer David Katz and his brother, felon Jay Katz for the 6-year scam, authorities said.
It’s unclear what Luski exactly told the pair to convince them to help him raid attorney escrow accounts, which hold clients’ settlement money and other funds in trust, officials said.
David Katz allegedly misappropriated $900,000 from his own attorney escrow account in 2010 and transferred most of it to Luski.
David Katz was later disbarred for the unethical conduct, Sacks said.
David Katz and the married Luski were such close pals that Katz even married Luski’s mistress allegedly to get her a green card, the prosecutor said.
David Katz allegedly went on to persuade two other lawyers, whose names were not released, to drain their own escrow accounts and hand over the money, too.
The trio transferred $3 million from one of the lawyer’s accounts.
The other attorney allegedly withdrew $500,000 from the account of a client suffering from dementia, authorities said.
Luski and Jay Katz, who served a stint in federal prison for tax evasion, allegedly laundered more than a million dollars of the stolen funds through cash-checking businesses and a realty company.
Luski also spent some of his dough on a million-dollar home in Morganville, NJ, in Monmouth County and thousands of dollars on Amex purchases, authorities said.
Justice Maxwell Wiley set bail at $2 million bond for Jay Katz and $1 million bond for David Katz.
Luski was held without bail pending a future hearing. The defendants’ lawyers declined to comment.