‘He destroyed us.’ Retired police officer says former Norwalk real estate attorney stole his life savings
Joe Jensen, 75, of Norwalk, should be enjoying retirement. Instead, the former Norwalk police officer is racked with anxiety after losing his life savings. He’ll have to keep working part time at the Rowayton train station and is considering a second part-time job.
“He destroyed us,” said Joe Jensen, referring to former real estate attorney Carl Ferraro. Ferraro, of Darien, was arrested last week on eight counts of larceny. He’s accused of stealing from several clients, including Jensen.
“We lost over $925,000 that was due to us,” Joe Jensen told News 12. “I couldn't imagine what happened, but it did happen.”
Joe Jensen started using Ferraro over the winter after deciding to list his home of 35 years in Rowayton.
“I loved the house. It had so much charm and quality,” Joe Jensen explained. It's where he raised three daughters with his first wife, who died after a long battle with cancer in 2013. He remarried five years later. The plan was for them both to sell their homes and start fresh in a new place.
Ferraro was referred to them “through a reputable person,” according to Paula Jensen. “He seemed like such a nice guy. I mean, you would never ever think there would be a problem.”
Ferraro worked out of an office by Norwalk City Hall and had three decades of experience. The Jensens said he was very professional until closing day when they suddenly couldn't get ahold of him to get the money he'd been holding in escrow from the sale.
“We'd go to the office, and the door would be locked,” recalled Paula Jensen. “His messages were all filled on his phone so you couldn't leave a message. We were starting to get really nervous.”
Joe Jensen and his daughter, who was the listing agent on the house, showed up at the office unannounced days later, and said Ferraro was there. He gave them the closing papers and their checks, which they deposited that day. Then came a call from the bank that Ferraro had canceled the checks.
“They said, ‘Gee, unfortunately this is no good.’ That's when our world came crashing down,” Joe Jensen remembered.
The Jensens immediately went to police who started an investigation and learned there were other victims, too. Court documents allege Ferraro stole from eight property sellers between November 2021 and March 2022. The amounts ranged from about $70,000 to over $900,000.
At his arraignment, Ferarro’s attorney Suzanne Sutton said mental health issues and self-medicating led to the alleged crimes. Sutton told the court Ferraro has been in and out of rehab facilities and hospitals since resigning from the state bar association in April. That happened after a judge suspended his law license in March after several clients, including Jensen, filed civil suits against Ferraro.
“Carl is so very sorry and so very remorseful,” Sutton told News 12 after the hearing.
But Joe Jensen doesn’t buy the apology. “No, that’s very easy to say. It wasn't one act while he wasn't in the right frame of mind. He did it time and time again to so many people, and it was well-calculated—his stealing from innocent people.”
When he heard about Ferraro’s arrest, Joe Jensen said, “It was consoling knowing that he did get arrested and charged with what he did to us and others, and hopefully he'll have to be held accountable for his horrible actions.” But he added that it didn’t help with his financial problems.
He’s hoping to be paid back, at least a little, by the state’s Client Security Fund, which was established to help people who've lost money or property due to an attorney's dishonest conduct. But that’s not a given and could be a long time off, according to Joe Jensen.
“It devastated us, and it continues to.”
Ferraro is being held on $1 million bond, which his attorney said he can’t post. He’s due back in court Aug. 15.