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Lawyer Steals From Historic Harlem Church, Goes to Prison

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on March 05, 2019 3:50 PM

Jean Valjean, the hero of "Les Miserables," once stole from a church.

He was homeless, starving, and desperate. But in a classic moment of mercy, the priest forgave Jean Valjean and spared him from prison.

John Shasanmi is no Jean Valjean. He is going to prison for stealing from a church. The difference? For one, he's a lawyer.

$600,000 Theft

Shasanmi took a lot more than silver platters. He stole $600,000 in a real estate transaction.

He pleaded guilty to grand larceny and possession of a forged instrument. It stemmed from a real estate deal for a historic church in Harlem.

Shasanmi, a former BigLaw attorney and apparently the devil's advocate, was supposed to be representing the Second Providence Church. But he took money from an escrow account that was supposed to be used for construction. Then he compounded the crime by giving the pastor fake financial records.

He resigned from the New York, but that wasn't enough of a confession. He was sentenced to 18 months to 54 months in prison.

Big Misunderstanding?

When he was arrested, Shasanmi said it was "a big misunderstanding" and pleaded not guilty.

By changing his plea to guilty, perhaps Shasanmi will find something like Jean Valjean's candlestick redemption. Who knows?

After serving his sentence, Shasanmi could become a politician. It wouldn't be the first time.

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