A 20-year veteran First Grade Detective of the New York Police Department is bringing concerns of the misappropriation of $20 billion Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) for the victims of 9/11 to the forefront.

There was a substantial amount of African American victims who assisted in the rescue and recovery of the injured as well as the deceased. Yet court cases have emerged in the press of white victims to successfully seek legal remedy and recovery for these lawyers’ misdeeds

According to BlackNews.com: On September 3, 2020, the United States Attorney General, Southern District of New York unsealed an indictment and charged a white lawyer for stealing 9/11 Victim Compensation Funds from a White NYPD Detective. (Press Release Number: 20-187). This story, “Disbarred Lawyer Admits Stealing $1 million From Ex-Cop with 9/11 – related Cancer” was also in the Long Island Press, October 20, 2020.

In many cases, lawyers are legally and fairly garnering compensation for work proceeds they have received on behalf of their clients who are actual victims of 9/11. However, there are instances where millions of dollars are being lured from the fund, tempting lawyers to take money that should go directly to the victims.

Joanne Brown, one of the many African American 911 victims whose legal attempts have failed to recover over $5 million, which she alleges her lawyers illegally misappropriated from her Victim Compensation Claim. Brown, who is disable, says that on September 11, 2001 she was an NYPD First Grade Detective assigned to the Missing Persons Squad.

Brown was present during and after the attacks, causing her to be injured from a fall to the ground after being pushed by a man. She continued to assist the rescue teams until Tower 2 fell. She would later be hospitalized after being found unconscious. Brown’s fall resulted in her having to endure 14 surgeries, 5 exacerbated physical injuries and 18 certified conditions from 780 hours of direct toxic exposure caused on September 11, 2001.

Brown hired  Christopher R. LoPalo, (Napoli Shkolnik) and Edward L. C. Marcowitz, (formerly of Marc J. Bern, & Partners & Barasch & McGarry) to represent her in June 2012 and October 2016. All appropriate documents and authorizations were promptly submitted, but when Brown contacted VCF in October of 2013 for an update on her funds, she was surprisingly informed that a payment had already been issued to her lawyer.

She immediately contacted Christopher LoPalo with her concerns, but was told that he could not disclose the amount of the check. Brown was also told that a contingent check had been mailed to her and returned so she would need to contact them. Upon further investigation, there showed no evidence of money ever being paid from Mr. Lopalo to Mrs. Brown.

This left Brown no other option than to hire yet another lawyer to not only investigate the missing funds from the first lawyer, but investigate the initial funds submitted from VCF. Her new attorneys were able to cut Mrs. Brown a check for only $8, 679, still not accounting for the initial amount granted by the VCF. 

Unfortunately, 2023 will be the statue of limitation date for Joanne Brown’s claim.