FREEHOLD – A former attorney has been charged with stealing over $50,000 from a deceased client’s estate and spending the funds on himself, officials said.
Michael Botton, 52, of West Long Branch has been charged with second-degree Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition and third-degree Failure to Make Required Disposition of Property Received.
An investigation by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Bureau began after they received a referral from the Office of Attorney Ethics of the New Jersey Supreme Court. They determined that Botton made a series of unauthorized withdrawals from his deceased client’s estate from June 2014 through October 2020.
Botton, whose law office was formerly located in West Long Branch, stole nearly $58,000 and spent the funds on personal expenses.
According to officials, Botton allegedly failed to fulfill his responsibilities as executor of the estate. He allegedly cut off contact with the client’s goddaughter and failed to make the required payments to her. The share of the estate was intended to cover expenses for her to advance her education overseas, authorities said.
On July 15, Botton surrendered himself to law enforcement without incident and was released pending a first appearance in Monmouth County Superior Court.