Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Danielle Von Lehman. The story has been updated.
NEW YORK (PIX11) — An Upper East Side man is accused of swindling at least five women out of a total of $1.8 million over nearly 10 years.
Nelson Counne, 69, was arraigned Monday in Manhattan Criminal Court on fraud and grand larceny charges.
Counne, who has used the aliases Nelson Roth or Justin Roth, posed as a wealthy retired art dealer and claimed to have homes in London and the south of France, according to prosecutors. Between 2012 and 2021, Counne allegedly stole more than $50,000 from two separate women and more than $3,000 from a third, according to the indictment. He met four of the women on dating websites and a fifth in person, prosecutors said.
Soon after dating, Counne would move in with the woman and pressure her to invest in phony companies or investments he said were in a “gray area” that he had insider knowledge of, according to prosecutors.
Counne’s attorney, Danielle Von Lehman, told PIX11 News that her client plans to fight the charges.
“He’s an elderly man. He’s lived in New York his whole life pretty much,” Von Lehman said. “These are very serious allegations. They can make allegations all day. What they can prove obviously is something completely different from that.”
Von Lehman had asked for Counne to be released on his own recognizance, but the judge said he could be an “extreme flight risk” and set bail at $150,000 cash or $350,000 insurance bond.
In 2022, Counne was also arrested and charged with allegedly swindling a Greenwich, Connecticut, woman out of $500,000. That case is still pending.