George Castrataro, a prominent gay bankruptcy attorney, was arrested Monday on charges of grand theft and fraud, accused of stealing over a half-million dollars from his client's estate accounts.
Castrataro is accused of stealing the inheritances of his clients, taking the proceeds of their estates, and instead of paying them, using it for himself, illegally spending the money on personal expenses, including dinners, car payments, mortgage payments, Uber rides, and clothing.
The probable cause warrant for his arrest states that Castrataro "did unlawfully engage in a scheme constituting a systematic ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud one or more persons, or to obtain property from one or more persons."
Castrataro was booked into the Broward County Jail on Monday, June 8, and bonded out the same day on a $32,500 bond.
The once prominent local attorney has been charged by the Broward County State Attorney's office with an organized scheme to defraud, and grand theft over $100,000. If convicted on both counts, Castrataro could face a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison, with a sentence of at least 42 months recommended by Florida's sentencing guidelines. Both charges are first degree felonies.
The Florida Supreme Court suspended Castrataro from practicing law in April after an independent Florida Bar audit of his trust accounts revealed that Castrataro was lying to the Bar and his clients.
The Bar sought and received from the Supreme Court an Emergency Order of Suspension, claiming that Castrataro's conduct was "causing great public harm." At the time, the Bar had only alleged he had "misappropriated $128,000 in clients’ funds."
Since then, Castrataro has filed a petition voluntarily resigning his membership in the Florida Bar.
Castrataro’s Fort Lauderdale based law practice was focused on bankruptcy and estate planning. He had distinguished himself in the LGBT community by serving on the board of directors of numerous charitable agencies, including Care Resource. He also launched an unsuccessful bid for city commission in Fort Lauderdale two years ago.
A New York native, prior to opening his law practice in 2006, he had previously worked extensively in the public health field with the Florida Department of Health and the American Red Cross.