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AG Nessel Files Charges Against Attorney for Embezzling Funds from Client's Trust
April 12, 2021
LANSING – A Detroit area attorney has been charged with embezzlement for allegedly stealing funds from the trust of his deceased client that were intended for the Michigan Humane Society, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today.
Anthony Semaan, 63, of Grosse Pointe Park was arraigned by Magistrate Barbara Scherr in the 16th District Court late last week on the following:
- One count of embezzlement by an agent ($50,000 - $100,000), a 15-year felony and/or $25,000 fine.
Semaan drafted the victim’s trust in 2011 and the individual later passed away in 2013. Fifty percent of the victim’s trust was allocated to the Michigan Humane Society and because those assets were intended for a charity, charitable trust provisions required that the Attorney General’s office be involved.
In 2016, after all expenses were paid, Semaan was tasked with distributing the funds according to what was specified in the trust. It is alleged that he placed a total of $262,732.68 into his lawyer’s trust/escrow account, distributed two payments to individuals named in the trust but did not provide the Michigan Humane Society with a notice of their interest in the trust or with the 50% disbursement.
“The victim’s trust very clearly identified how the funds were to be disbursed and by law, the defendant had a duty to adhere to the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct,” said Nessel. “It is concerning to know that someone who was in a position to carry out the wishes of the deceased may have taken advantage of that position. I am grateful to the Financial Crimes Division in my office for continuing to investigate these types of occurrences and ensuring that those most vulnerable are protected.”
Semaan is scheduled to appear for a Probable Cause Conference on April 15 at 9 a.m.
Please note: A criminal charge is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.