MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — A former City National Bank employee accused of swindling an elderly woman suffering from dementia out of more than $300,000 was indicted Thursday on grand larceny and other charges.
Edward Lewando, 51, gained the trust of Ellen Korn, a client of his at City National Bank, convincing her to allow him to consolidate her numerous accounts into one and to act as her personal banker — something he was not employed to do, prosecutors claim.
Lewando, who prosecutors say was fired from the bank shortly after meeting the ailing Korn, allegedly made weekly visits to her home under the guise of helping her to pay bills.
Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Lowey said Lewando arrived with her checks "already drafted" — all he needed was her signature.
From June 2009 to August 2011, Lewando had Korn sign more than $300,000 worth of checks made out to "cash" that were then surreptitiously used to pay his own credit card bills and bankroll expensive shopping habits, prosecutors said. Lewando is accused of buying goods from luxury retailers Louis Vuitton, Bergdorf Goodman and others.
Lewando's lawyer, Paul Feinman, said his client, who pleaded not guilty, has no criminal record and was just using the money to pay for the "extensive care" the "disabled woman" needed.
"I needed to take cash from [Korn] to pay aides," Lewando told authorities, according to court documents.
"My biggest mistake was doing this through my own account," he said. "She signed all the checks — she knew what she was doing."
Prosecutors said Korn's family discovered Lewando's theft a few months ago — shortly before the 94-year-old Korn died in May.
“Elder abuse is a problem that frequently involves financial exploitation," Manhattan District Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement. "But crimes against seniors should not — and in this office do not — go unnoticed."
Lewando's former employer, City National Bank, declined to comment.
According to a press release from Metropolitan National Bank, Lewando was hired in the spring of 2011 as a vice president and business development officer at Metropolitan's banking center at 1359 Broadway.
Metropolitan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Lewando is being held on $300,000 bail.