Lee County attorney indicted in embezzlement case

— A disbarred Fort Myers attorney was indicted today on charges he embezzled clients' funds, used them to pay back other clients and to invest in a Costa Rican real estate project.

A federal grand jury in Fort Myers handed up the indictment against 62-year-old Joseph A. Troiano and it was unsealed in U.S. District Court Wednesday. It charges him with mail fraud and seven counts of wire fraud.

If convicted, Troiano faces up to 20 years in a federal prison on each count. The indictment came after an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service.

The Florida Supreme Court suspended his license in January 2010 due to the fraud and he was disbarred the next month after practicing in Florida since 2002. A petition to suspend his license said his firm's checks were bouncing and he was hospitalized on suicide watch. He also was licensed to practice in Maine and was disbarred there in June. He specialized in taxation, business law and estate planning.

He could not immediately be reached for comment. His firm's number is disconnected.

The indictment alleges that from late 2007 through January 2010, when he was suspended, Troiano embezzled clients' and beneficiaries' funds and used them for his own purposes, including paying back other clients who'd given him money for services. He also made false representations and lied to clients to conceal the misappropriation of their funds.

The indictment also says he used clients’ funds to invest in a Costa Rican real estate project through J&D Investments LLC, a company he managed and owned with his wife.

He will be prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert P. Barclift and Yolande G. Viacava.

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