State AG accuses Livonia lawyer of embezzling from dead client’s trust
A Livonia lawyer is accused of embezzling money from a deceased client's trust meant for the Michigan Humane Society, the state's attorney general said.
Anthony Semaan, 63, of Grosse Pointe Park, was arraigned Wednesday in the 16th District Court on a felony charge of embezzlement of $50,000-$100,000, according to court records.
If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison or a $25,000 fine. A magistrate scheduled a probable cause conference for Thursday.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Semaan drafted his alleged victim’s trust in 2011 and his client had half of the trust allocated to the Michigan Humane Society. Since the assets were intended for a charity, the law required the Attorney General’s office to be involved.
The victim died in 2013 and in 2016, Semaan was to distribute the trust's funds according to his clients wishes, after all expenses were paid.
However, Nessel said Semaan is accused of placing $262,732.68 into his escrow account, distributing two payments to individuals named in the trust, but never told the Michigan Humane Society about 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,” Nessel said in a statement. "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."