FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A well-known Fort Lauderdale attorney has been accused of taking advantage of some of his clients after, investigators said, he kept hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to them.
According to Fort Lauderdale Police, George Castrataro was arrested and is facing some very serious allegations from a list of clients.
Tundra King, an alleged victim, said, “It was always very difficult for me to get in contact with him. I would keep calling him and calling him.”
King, who worked for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department for 20 years, thought she had a lawyer she could trust.
“I was really relying on him to provide legal guidance to me and not take advantage of me,” she said.
A woman who spoke to 7News on Monday said she is one of his victims.
“I met him through a referral, and he came very well respected,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified or show her face on camera.
After she paid him, the woman said, the attorney stopped returning her calls.
“Eventually, it became extremely hard to get in contact with him,” she said.
While she is not one of the listed victims, the woman said she lost $6,000.
“It is a just hard pill to swallow to recognize that each payment potentially went to his personal pocket,” she said.
Police said the victims hired Castrataro between 2019 and 2020 to represent them in a number of court probate proceedings.
Authorities said, “After the court would order authorizing distribution of assets to Castrataro into either the law firm’s escrow accounts or trust account, the money was never paid to the victims.”
Detectives said he kept making up stories, like the checks got lost in the mail.
Court documents report the attorney spent the money on “dinners, car payments, mortgage payments, Uber rides and clothing items, etc. Total loss is $625,766.58.”
King said, “I work hard for everything I have, and to just have it taken from me because of ill representation was just a kick in the gut.”
The woman interviewed by 7News said the financial setback has been devastating.
“I’m just trying to come to terms with potentially having to start all over,” she said.
The woman said she hired Castrataro back in 2017 and kept getting promises.
“I did some researching. Just recently. I saw that he was suspended and not able to practice law, but that was never shared with me,” she said, “and so, there were conversations since his suspension that still led me to believe he could help, that he was still making progress toward the case. I think, ultimately, if you do negative things, you will pay for it.”
7News has confirmed Castrataro’s law license has been suspended.
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