A Pennsylvania lawyer has been charged with wire fraud after being accused of embezzling his client’s funds, prosecutors said in a January 10 press release.
John William “JW” Eddy has been charged with one count of wire fraud. The 39-year-old is expected to plead guilty, according to plea documents.
Eddy was a Fayette County deputy attorney, a lawyer in Uniontown and a lawyer in his own office, court documents show.
His lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.
Eddy was required to keep funds in an Attorney Interest Trust (IOLTA) account for his client’s cases, but instead used the money for other purposes, the statement said. He is accused of embezzling $ 242,975.89 of his client’s funds from 2016 to 2020.
According to court documents, Eddy embezzled funds from the estate of a car accident victim whose family he was representing in a personal injury lawsuit and told the family that a tax problem was delaying his money.
“Over the following years, the deficit continued to grow steadily due to further embezzlement,” court documents said.
On several occasions, Eddy spent the money owed to clients entrusted to him, according to court documents. He ended up taking out personal loans to reimburse clients whose funds he had used inappropriately and repay them the full amount, prosecutors said.
As decided in 2021, but with retroactive effect in 2019, Eddy was suspended from his practice of law for three years, according to a disciplinary board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
During this time, Eddy struggled with mental health and addiction issues. He was arrested in 2019 and charged with impaired driving and possession of a controlled substance after becoming addicted to opioids after surgery, according to the disciplinary board and court documents.
According to Eddy’s psychiatrist, “There is a causal relationship between (Eddy’s) diagnosed depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorder and his malpractice.”
He expressed “sincere and genuine remorse” for his actions, the disciplinary council said in documents from June 2021.
Eddy faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud.