After 19-Month Probe, Attorney Gets Hit With Indictment Alleging He Stiffed Clients Out Of $70K+ Of Their Own Money Derived From Settlements Of Civil Lawsuits
- A county grand jury indicted a longtime Asbury Park lawyer  on charges he stole $70,000 from clients on three separate occasions in 2013 and 2014, the prosecutor said.
William Gallagher, 70, who worked at Klitzman & Gallagher, obtained his license to practice law in 1968, said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni in an online statement. Gallagher was indicted after a 19-month investigation that examined his work with clients engaged in civil action suits.
Gallagher, who obtained his law degree from Fordham University according to an online attorney profile, has been suspended from practicing law in New Jersey since January 2015, Gramiccioni said.
Gallagher negotiated his clients' settlements, then reportedly wired money from his firm's attorney trust account to a personal account, Gramiccioni said.
In total, Gramiccioni said Gallagher is charged with stealing $71,615.69.(1)
"Gallagher took advantage of his position of trust by stealing from clients," Gramiccioni said.
One of Gallagher's unnamed clients became suspicious of the attorney's activities when she didn't receive the $23,037.35 that was the result of a civil settlement related to a premises liability action, Gramiccioni said.
Gallagher didn't provide the money to the client despite her multiple requests for it, Gramiccioni said.
The grand jury charged Gallagher with one count of second-degree theft by failure to make required disposition and one count of third-degree misapplication of entrusted funds, Gramiccioni said.
The second-degree theft charge could send Gallagher, if convicted, to prison for five to ten years, Gramiccioni said. He could face three to five years for the other charge.
For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that attempt to clean up the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
- Directory Of Lawyers' Funds For Client Protection (August 2016) (includes a listing for Canadian client protection funds, courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.