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Tuesday, November 12 Local

Former Westport immigration lawyer accused of stealing money from clients

STAMFORD — A former Westport immigration attorney was arraigned Thursday at the Stamford courthouse on two counts of first-degree larceny.

Judith Sporn, 69, is being held in lieu of a $550,000 court-appearance bond set by Stamford Judge Gary White and will be spending the weekend at the York Correctional Institution in Niantic at least until Tuesday. On that day she is scheduled to return to Stamford and her attorney Daniel Schwartz will argue for a bond reduction.

Sporn was arrested by Stamford police Thursday morning on a referral from the Stamford State’s Attorney’s office, which investigated allegations that she took $169,456 from 80 clients who were unhappy with her legal advice and performance. A second warrant said she refused to pay a $43,000 settlement to a former client.

Schwarz declined to comment on the allegations following the arraignment.

Sporn is no stranger to trouble and was suspended from practicing law by a state judge for two years in 2015.

According to her arrest warrants, Sporn’s current troubles with the law began when the Statewide Grievance Committee, which investigates and adjudicates complaints made by clients against their attorneys, referred their investigation into Sporn to the Stamford State’s Attorney’s office. The Grievance Committee investigation led to her being suspended from the bar in October 2016.

In November 2017 Sporn resigned from the Connecticut bar and waived her right to ever apply for reinstatement as an attorney.

According to the affidavit, Sporn was the subject of dozens of grievance complaints over the past few years. Many of her former immigration clients said she took their money to represent them, but did not do anything to help them legally and did not return their money.

On top of that, another 50 people filed complaints with the state’s Client Security Fund to be reimbursed for money taken from them by Sporn, the affidavit said.

In April this year, investigators met with attorney Hamza Ma’ayergi, who was assigned to take over Sporn’s files after she was suspended in 2016. Ma’ayergi said after Sporn’s suspension in 2016, he was unable to comply with the court’s directives regarding Sporn’s clients because she continued to represent some of them in federal court and refused to deliver her files to him, the affidavit said.

It was not until March 2017 that she delivered many of the files to him but about 200 of those files remain missing, the affidavit said.

The investigation “includes 80 complainants for which a total of $169,456 in retainers and fees were paid. That Judith Sporn refunded two clients retainers totalling $4,185. The Client Security Fund made refunds to 61 claimants totaling $102,586. As of this writing 12 clients have not received a refund,” the affidavit said.

The affidavit also said Sporn took on 24 clients after she was suspended from the Connecticut bar.

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jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com

John Nickerson|Police and court reporter

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