Catch Arntsen If You Can: Accused Real Estate Lawyer Thief Faces the Music


The grim-looking fella wearing a black Adidas tracksuit hanging slackly from his broad frame didn’t appear to be the sort you’d figure for a globetrotting, multi-million-dollar-swindling, authority-duping mountebank that the female Assistant District Attorney was describing late Friday night inside a Manhattan Criminal Courtroom.

Perhaps that’s the most obvious knock on Douglas Arntsen, a 34-year-old real estate attorney who, according to his attorney Alan Lewis, is a native Staten Islander with deep ties to the borough and the two parishes he attended as a kid—St. Peter’s Church and Our Lady Star of the Sea—not to mention his hardworking parents. Indeed, in testimony now immortalized in criminal court documents, the defendant, insisted Mr. Lewis, was raised by a law-abiding architect and an assistant principal at a local school.

“He deserves to be treated as a person who has never been arrested before,” said Mr. Lewis during a criminal court arraignment proceeding late Friday night–“[as a] US citizen with deep community ties.”

catch me if you can Catch Arntsen If You Can: Accused Real Estate Lawyer Thief Faces the Music
Frank Abagnale he isn't

Prosecutor Sophi Jacobs charged Mr. Arntsen, while working as an attorney at Crowell & Moring, with embezzling $7 million from real estate client Regal Real Estate, run by the emphatically-named William Punch.

And in a shocker of a revelation, Mr. Arntsen is now being investigated for “the theft and misappropriation of up to $21 million” from a second (and unidentified) corporate client, according to Manhattan prosecutors.

Following Mr. Arntsen’s arraignment, Ms. Jacobs declined to comment on whether this second corporate client worked in real estate.

Mr. Arntsen is facing two counts of grand larceny in the first degree and one count of scheming to defraud in the first degree. He faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the top charge.

What prosecutors allege is simple: Mr. Arntsen was hired by Mr. Punch and Regal Real Estate, a real estate management firm owned by landlord Maurice Laboz, to assist in the sale of commercial and residential properties, including 112 Fulton Street, 3 East 17th Street, and 9 East 16th Street, among others in the company’s widespread portfolio.