Cooperstown lawyer faces charges in $4M estate fraud

Schneiderman

Thomas "Tom" Lagan, a lawyer and investor who has a home in Cooperstown, was one of two men arrested Friday on fraud charges, according to a media release from New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

Lagan and Guilderland Town Justice Richard J. Sherwood were arrested on multiple charges regarding an alleged $4 million theft from the estate of Walter Bruggeman, a General Electric executive.

“As we allege, the defendants orchestrated a complex scheme to steal millions from trusts they were responsible for protecting,” said Schneiderman in the media release. “We have zero tolerance for those who try to game the system and violate the public trust in order to line their own pockets.”

According to the media release, Lagan and Sherwood gave Bruggeman and his wife, Pauline, financial advice on an estate valued at about $20 million. However, they allegedly diverted funds from the estate into their own accounts. 

The complaint charges Lagan with two counts of grand larceny in the first degree (a class B felony); one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree (a class E felony); and two counts of criminal possession of stolen property in the First Degree (a Class B felony). Both defendants were arraigned Friday in Albany before Judge Gary Stiglmeier.

Lagan had been a member of Cooperstown's Economic Development and Sustainability Committee. He resigned from his position Monday, and the full village board accepted the resignation at Monday night's meeting.

He was a partner in the BTP Cooperstown LLC group, which tried to build a hotel in the village at 124 Main St. in 2014 and 2015. According to public records, BTP also bought the Key Bank building, a four-story building at 99 Main St. in February 2015 and a year earlier bought a historic building across the street, at 134 Main St. In county records, BTP is still listed as the owner of the property at 124 Main St. 

The plan to build a hotel on Main Street was abandoned in 2015 after the denial of several variances that would have allowed a four-story structure. One of the partners, Perry Ferrara, bought a building on Railroad Avenue instead, and The Railroad Inn opened in 2017. Lagan is not involved in that project.