Will Trustee Stole Thousands from Deceased Friend’s Estate

A Wisconsin businessman has pled guilty to estate theft, admitting he stole nearly $160,000 from the wife and children of a deceased friend.

Zygmund “Zyg” Jablonski gave his testimony in Ashland County Circuit Court Thursday on November 13, saying he had diverted hundreds of thousands in funds from the estate of the late James Joseph Sanders. Jablonski, who was appointed as a trustee to the estate, had diverted the money in an attempt to save his floundering plumbing business.

Jablonski stated that he had written a total of 16 checks between February 2008 and August 2012 that were drawn on funds of the estate. His company, A to Z Plumbing, received $85,800 and checks totaling $73,500 were cashed by Jablonski himself. Jablonski pled guilty to a single criminal charge of theft by trustee in the amount of $131,450, as he had repaid $27,850 to the estate before the charges were filed.

Jablonski had acted as personal representative to the estate for six years before the case began. Sanders’ niece, Susan Munich, had repeatedly asked Jablonski for an accounting of the estate, which he was unable to give. After being put off several times, she began to examine the state statutes in order to see what had been happening to her uncle’s accounts.

In a victim impact statement, Munich said of Jablonski, “He has done damage to our whole family that is horrible. I have known Mr. Jablonski since he was around 11 or 12 years old. I would never have thought this of him.”

After Jablonski entered his plea, the court was given receipts of repayments that Jablonski had made to the Sandor estate. These payments totaled $131,848.70 and were said to represent the full amount taken from the estate, plus the interest that would have accrued if the funds had remained in the account. Jablonski also said he regretted the decision to take the money, and had always planned on paying the estate back.

Attorneys in the case said that punishment could have been much harsher, as Jablonski could have faced 16 different counts of theft instead of the single criminal count. In addition, no penalties were filed for crimes against the elderly, as three of the individuals entitled to the proceeds of the estate died during the period when Jablonski was re-appropriating the funds.

To learn more about choosing the trustee of your will wisely, contact Florida elder law attorney Ric Blackwell today.

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