Blame it on the booze

DERBY - An Orange attorney charged with forgery may have a tough time proving his innocence, as an affidavit shows he admitted to the crime at a hearing in front of the Connecticut Statewide Bar Council Grievance Committee.

According to the affidavit, Ronald Bozelko, 68, admitted to forging the signature of his client, Carol Rapuano, on a check he allegedly deposited into his own account in the amount of $73,751.14.

The money was supposed to be deposited into the estate of Joseph Crowley, of which Rapuano was the conservator.

Bozelko was arrested Dec. 31, in Orange, and charged with one count of second degree forgery and was released on $50,000 bail.

According to the affidavit, Bozelko offered no explanation at the grievance committee hearing, which took place at Waterbury court, as to why he deposited the money into his own account rather than the estate account.

He also said he never intended to defraud the estate, but did admit to forging Rapuano's signature, although he said he never used the money for his own personal use.

The affidavit also said that Bozelko issued himself a check for $64,635 in legal fees for his handling of the estate, and additionally a check to Rapuano for $2,462.50 for conservator fees. However, said the affidavit, the checks were signed after Joseph Crowley died, but were dated before his death.

The affidavit also alleges that Bozelko, after selling the Crowley property in Dec. 2001, deposited the proceeds into a personal account. However, Bozelko allegedly paid back the money a year after the sale.

According to Bozelko's attorney, Ira Grudberg, the estate of Joseph Crowley has been restored after Bozelko repaid the money he allegedly took.

This most recent forgery charge is the only criminal charge that has been brought against Bozelko, although he has had four complaints filed against him by the committee.

That same committee is seeking Bozelko's disbarment, which has been stalled by his recent poor health. Bozelko recently suffered a stroke, and has told the committee that an alcohol problem led to his alleged violations.

The most recent complaint against Bozelko alleges that he kept money left to a disabled man by his mother. Bozelko was placed in charge of the estate of Antonina Cap, July 16, 2004, after her death on May 29 of that year. Cap's estate was valued at $1,066,613.88, and was meant to support her physically and mentally disabled son, Anatole.

According to the Grievance Committee findings, Bozelko allegedly made disbursements from the Cap estate into several Limited Liability Corporations he owned. Bozelko on Nov. 12, 2004, allegedly made a $30,000 deposit to a company he owned called "Due Diligence L.L.C," and on March 14, 2005, loaned himself $180,000. Bozelko also allegedly made deposits to two other companies he was found to have owned and ended up taking a combined $593,026.48 from the Cap estate.

Bozelko was due to appear in Derby court on Jan. 9, but his case was granted a continuance to Jan. 23.