Rhode Island Attorney Jailed for Collecting Pension Benefits of Deceased Client

Attorney pleads guilty to taking $234K over 12 years.

A Rhode Island attorney granted executive authority to sign off on checks of a former client has been sentenced for collecting nearly a quarter of a million dollars over 12 years following the client’s death, the United States Attorney’s Office announced.

The attorney, Oleg Nikolyszyn, was granted authority to sign and deposit checks meant for the client and to collect pension benefits. Nikolyszyn admitted to siphoning the funds to a jointly owned bank account between him and the client, and then allocating the money into the bank account belonging to him and his family.

When the attorney was originally confronted on the issue, he lied, the court determined, and said that he was being responsible with the money and flying to Poland frequently to hand deliver it in bulk to the deceased client’s nephew. Following his purported falsehoods, and identification and condemnation of his behavior, he was suspended and disbarred from practicing law in Rhode Island.

Of the total $234,000 taken from the client’s arrangements, $173,000 was sourced from the City of Providence Employee Retirement System, and $60,000 was taken from the Laborers’ International Union of North America Pension Fund. Nikolyszyn was sentenced to 12 months and one day in confinement, six months of subsequent house arrest, and one year of supervised release.

Misconduct pertinent to the responsible distribution of pension trust assets happens somewhat frequently. Earlier this year, the founder of a New Jersey-based vending machine company was sentenced to two and a half years for embezzling over $358,000 from the company’s pension fund.

Previously, a Louisiana accountant had been charged with stealing more than $2 million from the New Orleans Firefighters Pension and Relief Fund, and separately, the former head of UK charity for the disabled was charged for stealing more than $325,000 from the charity’s pension.

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