East Hampton Lawyer Stole $500,000, D.A. Charges

Some money went to church, schools, hospital
East Hampton Village Police Officer Jack Bartelme led Kyle Lynch into East Hampton Town Justice Court on Wednesday morning, accompanied by Detective Steven Sheades. T.E. McMorrow

An East Hampton attorney who was barred from the practice of law in August for “mental incompetence” has been charged with stealing over $500,000 from the estate of a North Fork woman, and with several more crimes including theft from another lawyer.

Kyle Thomas Lynch, 42, turned himself in yesterday morning at the district attorney’s office in Riverside to face charges of second-degree felony grand larceny. He was then transported to East Hampton Village police headquarters for processing, and to East Hampton Town Justice Court, where he was arraigned ion six felony charges before Town Justice Court before Justice Lisa R. Rana. His lawyer, Craig McElwee, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

According to the D.A.’s economic crimes bureau, which has been investigating the matter in cooperation with village police for a year and a half, Mr. Lynch took money from the estate of Helen Chalmers, who died in the fall of 2013, and deposited it into the business account of his law firm, Bainton Lynch, specialists in real estate.

While the alleged thefts were happening, he was also donating money from the Chalmers estate to various governmental organizations. Those donations were documented by The Suffolk Times in July 2014. “Shortly before last month’s vote on a resolution to accept a $150,000 bequest from the estate of Helen Chalmers, Greenport School District Superintendent Michael Comanda asked the Board of Education if anyone knew of the recently deceased Orient resident,” The Times reported. “No hands were raised.”

Village police charge that Mr. Lynch did not limit his alleged thievery to the dead woman’s estate. Another victim was another lawyer, Carl Irace, who was an associate in the Bainton Lynch firm. The police indicated yesterday that Mr. Lynch had drained most of the firm’s equity funds. Bainton Lynch was on Much­more Lane, in village jurisdiction.

Mr. Irace contacted police after he noticed a discrepancy on two of his credit card statements. “He came in and made a complaint to us,” Detective Steve Sheades said yesterday. Mr. Lynch allegedly took out two credit cards in Mr. Irace’s name, running up charges of over $50,000, the detective said.

Another victim was said to have been a client of the firm, Thomas Rudegeair. His case involved money held in escrow; police say, among other things, that $80,000 of that money was diverted to the firm.

The charges include second-degree felony grand larceny, identity theft, illegal possession of another person’s identity information, and grand larceny third degree.

In addition to the Greenport School District’s 2014 windfall, The Suffolk Times reported that “Oysterponds School District, Eastern Long Island Hospital, and St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church in Greenport each received $10,000. Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport and the Orient Fire Department received $5,000 each. So did the woman who delivered Ms. Chalmers’s mail.”

The grievance committee of New York State’s Ninth Judicial District barred Mr. Lynch from practicing law last summer “based upon his admitted mental incapacitation due to mental infirmity or illness.” Bail was set at $50,000 which was not immediately posted.

This story has been updated from its original version.