Milford police said they are investigating complaints about a 53-year-old attorney from Orange who is accused of embezzling more than $175,000 from two clients.
Police began investigating in August when one of Michael Hayes’ clients told police that the attorney withheld more than $125,000 from a life insurance policy for her deceased spouse.
According to a news release from police, Hayes is suspected of using clients’ money to flip houses.
Attorney Edmund Collier is representing Hayes and said information provided by police is inaccurate in some respects and that neither of the two alleged victims are out “a single penny” as a result of Hayes’ actions.
According to police, one victim met with Hayes in June 2012 to discuss her finances and was informed that there was no money, that Hayes had invested the funds in a property in Milford and refused to tell her where the property was.
Police said their investigation determined that Hayes had registered a limited liability company titled “16 Corona Circle Associates,” which led to a cash purchase of a residential property there in June 2012.
Hayes is accused of using funds from another client’s account during the transaction and replenishing a portion of the funds withheld from the initial victim, according to a news release from police.
This residential property was renovated and placed back on the housing market for resale, law enforcement officials said.
In September 2012, armed with a warrant, investigators searched the Law Offices of Meuser, Eckenrode and Hayes, located on Cherry Street in Milford, and said they found more evidence and information pertaining to this complaint, as well as other alleged criminal activity involving Hayes.
Then, investigators met with a second victim. Hayes is accused of embezzling $50,326 from the second person in October 2012, indicating that they had bought a house together and to keep it “hush-hush.” According to police, Hayes told the victim that she would get an interest check in November 2012 or Hayes would sell the property.
Hayes did not complete any legal documents or agreements with the two victims about borrowing funds from them to purchase any real estate, according to police.
On Nov. 15, Hayes surrendered to police and was charged with two counts of embezzlement in the first degree. He was released on a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to appear at Milford Superior Court on Nov. 27.
Collier said he would not get into specific details about the allegations, but said Hayes, a father of five who has been active in the community, has been a local attorney for more than 25 years with no disciplinary issues or complaints.
“He’s a well-known, well liked guy,” Collier said.
Police ask anyone with concerns about activities involving Hayes to contact Detective Nash at (203) 783-4730 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.