Thanks anyway, I added info but my original questions didn't get answered.
The reason that the attorneys who offered suggestions didn't mention anything about a crime is because it's unclear what crime, if any, the sellers of the property may have committed. If anyone has committed a crime, it is the prior attorney who, by your description, went to prison.
The sellers' refusal to deliver a new deed to you is far more likely to be civil in nature, as opposed to criminal. Further, the remedy you seek, a deed to the property evidencing your ownership, is civil in nature as opposed to criminal.
I wish you luck finding an attorney. Try the find-a-lawyer tool on this website. You could also contact your county bar association or the New York State Bar Association for a referral.
Thanks for the clarification, I think it was the county clerk (or maybe two different sources) who told me years ago it was a misdemeanor or felony to not sign a deed, at any rate the county clerk told me it was against the law. I've tried NYSBA several times over the decades, AARP, pro-bono county resources, with no luck.