Metro Detroit attorney accused of embezzling funds from deceased client’s trust

Officials say funds intended for Michigan Humane Society


LANSING, Mich. – A Metro Detroit attorney has been charged with embezzlement after he allegedly stole funds from the trust of his deceased client, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.

The funds, officials said, were intended for the Michigan Humane Society.

Anthony Semaan, 63, of Grosse Pointe Park, was arraigned last week on one count of embezzlement by an agent ($50,000-$100,000) -- a 15-year felony and/or a $25,000 fine.

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Officials said Semaan drafted the victim’s trust in 2011 -- two years before the client had died. Fifty percent of the trust was allocated to Michigan Humane.

The AG’s office said that in 2016, Semaan was tasked with distributing the money according to what was specified in the trust. He allegedly put a total of $262,732.68 into his lawyer’s trust/escrow account and distributed two payments to individuals named in the trust but did not provide Michigan Humane with notice of its interest in the trust or with the 50% disbursement.

“The victim’s trust very clearly identified how the funds were to be disbursed and by law, the defendant had a duty to adhere to the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel. “It is concerning to know that someone who was in a position to carry out the wishes of the deceased may have taken advantage of that position. I am grateful to the Financial Crimes Division in my office for continuing to investigate these types of occurrences and ensuring that those most vulnerable are protected.”

Semaan’s next hearing is scheduled for later this week.

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About the Author:

DeJanay Booth joined WDIV as a web producer in July 2020. She previously worked as a news reporter in New Mexico before moving back to Michigan.