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Wayne County Attorney Pleads Guilty to Embezzling from Client's Trust

LANSING - A Detroit-area attorney charged with embezzlement for allegedly stealing funds intended for the Michigan Humane Society from the trust of his deceased client pleaded guilty, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today.   

Anthony Semaan, 64, of Grosse Pointe Park, was charged in April.  

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. 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.  

Tuesday afternoon before Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Noah Hood, Semaan pleaded guilty as charged to embezzlement $50,000 to $100,000, a 15-year felony. His conviction will be reported to the State Bar of Michigan.  

"Older individuals who use professionals for estate planning should be able to rely on those professionals to follow the law and make sure the money is distributed in accordance's with their wishes. When those professionals misappropriate those funds, my department stands ready to hold them accountable," Nessel said. 

Semaan's sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 9. 

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