Former West Caldwell attorney Matthew Kirnan was sentenced Monday to seven years in state prison for stealing $750,000 from three clients, officials at the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office said.
Kirnan, 52, a disbarred lawyer from Ramsey, was sentenced by state Superior Court Judge Sherry Hutchins-Henderson after pleading guilty before the same judge on July 18.
Between 2009 and 2010, Kirnan, who practiced real estate law, admitted to pocketing money that was supposed to be used to pay two clients' outstanding mortgages, as well as money another client was to use to pay inheritance taxes.
Instead of depositing the money in his attorney trust account and using it for the intended purpose, Kirnan stole the money, the prosecutor’s office said.
The judge noted Kirnan had previously been arrested by the FBI for filing fraudulent IRS documents and was on one-year probation for practicing law under false impression in Bergen County.
“The law works no matter who you are,” said Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Walter Dirkin, who handled the case. “Whether you’re someone who holds himself out as respectable in the community or whether you’re an average citizen, you can’t go from contrition to redemption without consequences. Every time Mr. Kirnan has been put in a position of trust, he abused it.”
Kirnan was mayor of Verona from 1997 to 1999.