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PA lawyer misused client’s money, took out $240K in loans: feds

The 39-year-old lawyer faces up to 20 years in prison.

The 39-year-old lawyer faces up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors announced in a January 10 press release that a Pennsylvania attorney is charged with electronic fraud after being accused of embezzling his client’s money.

John William “JW” Eddy has been charged with electronic fraud. The 39-year-old is expected to plead guilty, according to pleading documents.

Court documents showed that Eddie was an associate attorney for Fayette County, a Uniontown attorney and an attorney at his private practice.

His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

The statement said Eddie was required to keep the money in interest on an attorney’s trust account (IOLTA) for his client’s cases, but used the money instead for other purposes. He is accused of embezzling $242,975.89 of his client’s money from 2016 to 2020.

According to court documents, Eddie embezzled money from a car accident victim’s estate who was representing his family in a personal injury lawsuit and told the family that a tax issue was holding them back.

“Over the next several years, the deficit continued to grow steadily due to additional embezzlement,” the court documents said.

On various occasions, Eddie spent money owed to clients entrusted to him, according to court documents. Prosecutors said he ended up taking out personal loans to repay clients he had improperly used their money and repaying them the lump sum.

Set in 2021, but retroactively starting in 2019, Eddy has been suspended from law practice for three years, according to a disciplinary board in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

During this time, Eddie was struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. He was arrested in 2019 and charged with a DUI and possession of a controlled substance after becoming dependent on opioids after surgery, according to the Disciplinary Board and court documents.

According to Eddy’s psychiatrist, “there is a causal relationship between[Eddie]s diagnosed with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and his professional misconduct.”

In the June 2021 documents, the Disciplinary Board said it expressed “sincere and genuine remorse” for its actions.

Eddie faces up to 20 years in prison for fraud.

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Maria Rush is a real-time national reporter. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame and previously worked for the Chicago Tribune, the Tampa Bay Times and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

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