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Former St. Pete trust attorney charged with stealing $279,000 from client

St. Petersburg police said he had been hired to oversee a trust valued at more than $700,000.
Darce Jay Snyder, 68, faces a charge of grand theft. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
Darce Jay Snyder, 68, faces a charge of grand theft. [Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]

A St. Petersburg man who worked as a trust attorney has been arrested and charged with stealing nearly $279,000 from a client.

Darce Jay Snyder, 68, faces a charge of grand theft.

St. Petersburg police said he had been hired to oversee a trust valued at more than $700,000. When his client turned 50 and obtained control of the trust’s assets, she found that Snyder had stolen $279,000 between February and May of 2015. He stole by the money by writing checks from the trust to himself, arrest reports state.

Bay News 9 is reporting that the victim is Valerie Sexton-Maher, 50. She told the station that the trust is actually empty, and that prosecutors can’t charge him for stealing the entire amount because of the statute of limitations.

Related: Former St. Pete Trust Attorney Charged With Grand Theft via Bay News 9

“Unfortunately, you can’t always trust a trustee on an account,” she told Bay News 9. “They are very good at hiding money.

“What he was charged with is not the full extent of what he took from me,” she added. “At the beginning of the trustee account, there was close to a million dollars in it and that was when my mother passed away in 2001. So, at a conservative rate of interest we would be talking about millions.

“It’s beyond upsetting. It makes me sad that unfortunately my mother trusted this person and thought that he was going to do the right thing for me,” she said. “I’ve prided myself on not touching any money from that trust until I needed it… I planned on using it for my retirement. I’ve had some health issues in the last couple of years and… that money would be a big deal for me now and I don’t have it.”

Snyder’s law license was revoked by the Florida Supreme Court in 2018 after he was accused of withdrawing $1 million in advance fees from another client, according to Bay News 9.

Snyder was being held at the Pinellas County jail on $150,000 bail. An assistant public defender has entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

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