BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – A man not licensed to practice law in New York had been practicing in Erie County for 15 years. According to Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita, who called the man a “faux lawyer,” Dennis McGrath, of Hamburg, pleaded guilty in county court Tuesday to unlawful practice of law and grand larceny.
McGrath, 57, is not licensed to practice law in New York; however he represented private and indigent clients for more than a decade. Between January, 2001 and December, 2013, McGrath was paid $164,485 for representing clients for the Erie County Bar Association Aid to Indigent Prisoners’ Society Inc. Taxpayers footed the bill.
“It’s outrageous that he was able to get away with it as long as he did,” Sedita said. “He was essentially defrauding the county and the taxpayer and doing so for a number of years.”
Investigators first learned about this when someone filed a grievance against McGrath. Authorities discovered that he’s is a licensed lawyer in Ohio, but not in New York.
The DA’s office said McGrath was able to float under the radar because he told the public defender’s office that he was registered to practice law when he was hired.