Sunday, April 23, 2017

Criminal Prosecutors Catch Up With Another Disbarred Lawyer, Giving Him The Pinch For Allegedly Ripping Off Clients w/ Special Needs Out Of $146K+; Prosecutor: Defendant's Conduct "Disturbing On A Basic Human Level"; Dozen Victims Apply To Attorney Ripoff Fund For Reimbursement

In Norristown, Pennsylvania, the Daily Local reports:
  • Calling it “disturbing on a basic human level,” Montgomery County prosecutors have accused a disbarred Lower Providence lawyer of embezzling nearly $147,000 from clients with special needs.

    Patrick Joseph Bradley, 45, whose law office, Bradley Law LLC, was located in the 3800 block of Germantown Pike, was arraigned Monday [April 10] before District Court Judge Cathleen Kelly Rebar in Lower Providence on charges of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, receiving stolen property, theft by failure to make required disposition of funds received, dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, deceptive business practices, misapplication of entrusted property, securing execution of documents by deception and unauthorized practice of law in connection with alleged incidents that occurred between 2013 and 2016.

    Bradley, of the 1100 block of Cornwallis Way, Perkiomen Township, was released on $250,000 unsecured bail to await his preliminary hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. May 2 before Rebar.

    With the charges, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele alleged Bradley, through his law firm, established and managed special needs trust agreements for five clients, established himself as the sole trustee and then used assets in the accounts for his own benefit, to the tune of $116,340.

    “The defendant stole monies from these special needs families and used it to pay for his personal bills, such as his home mortgage, his gas for his car, restaurant meals, movie tickets, sporting goods, personal utility bills and cellphone service,” Steele alleged at a news conference on Tuesday. “He used these accounts as his own personal ATM.”

    Additionally, Bradley was paid by seven other clients to provide legal services in obtaining orders and guardianships for their special needs relatives and failed to perform the necessary legal work, instead using $30,577 in funds for his own personal use, authorities alleged.

    The clients who allegedly were victimized by Bradley resided in Montgomery, Berks and Chester counties, according to investigators.

    “The defendant’s actions in unlawfully taking significant sums of money earmarked to help those with special needs is not only illegal but it’s disturbing on a basic human level,” Steele alleged. “The defendant was put in a position of trust, or worked himself into a position of trust, and he took advantage of some good people who were trying to take care of loved ones by establishing trusts for their ongoing care.

    “He earned their trust and then he preyed upon those with special needs and their families,” Steele added.

    While the charges reflect alleged conduct that victimized 12 clients, Steele asked that anyone else who may have information concerning alleged questionable legal practices by Bradley, or believe they may have been defrauded, should call the county detective bureau.

    Steele also was joined at the news conference by Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, who is also a member of the board of the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security, which was established in 1982 to reimburse clients who have suffered losses as a result of the misappropriation of funds by their lawyers.(1)

    “This horrific act perpetrated by Mr. Bradley on his vulnerable clients is a perfect example of how the fund can remedy the wrong that was committed upon them,” Salavantis said.

    The 12 alleged victims related to the Bradley criminal case are in various stages of applying to the organization for reimbursement of their lost funds, officials said.

    The fund does not receive tax dollars and its sole source of revenue is an annual fee that every lawyer pays to be licensed to practice in Pennsylvania. Between 1982 and June 2016 that fund paid out about $64 million covering the misconduct of 905 lawyers statewide, according to Salavantis.

    “As in many cases we see, Mr. Bradley used his position of trust to embezzle money from his clients. Clients who are special needs victims believed he had their best interests in mind and may never have had the opportunity to recover their losses,” Salavantis said. “However, through the fund, we may be able to reimburse his clients for the loss sustained through this particularly horrendous act.”

    The investigation of Bradley began when the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, an arm of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, which protects the public by investigating complaints against lawyers, investigated a complaint from a client of Bradley’s who allegedly paid him for legal work in 2013 that was never completed, according to Steele. Ultimately, Bradley’s law license was suspended on Aug. 9, 2015, according to court papers.

    But Bradley allegedly continued to practice law without a license and was then disbarred on Sept. 15, 2016, Steele alleged.

    State officials contacted the district attorney’s office last August to assess if criminal charges against Bradley were warranted. An investigation by county detectives then commenced, Steele explained.

    The case will be prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kelli McGinnis.
Source: Montcoe lawyer accused of embezzling $146K from special needs clients.
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(1) The Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security has a $100,000 maximum award per claimant. Effective February 24, 2014, there will be a $1,000,000 aggregate cap per attorney. The Board may, in their discretion, request the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to permit payments of awards relating to one attorney to exceed the $1,000,000 aggregate cap. The decision to grant such a request lies solely with the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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