A former real estate lawyer based in Fairfield County faces prison time for illegally using funds received from his clients, causing them to lose over $700,000.
Westerly, Rhode Island resident William McCullough, age 62, admitted to the embezzling scheme on Wednesday, Nov. 23, according to the Connecticut Department of Justice District.
As part of his Stamford-based law practice, McCullough would handle real estate transactions for clients and receive funds that he was required to deposit into an Interest on Lawyers’ Trust Account (IOLTA Account) to use as part of his duties to these clients. However, in March 2018, an audit by the Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee found that McCullough held less than $600,000 in this account, despite owing more than $1.27 million to clients, Department of Justice officials said.
The audit also found that McCullough had failed to maintain required documents for several years, according to the Department of Justice.
A criminal investigation into McCullough then revealed that he had defrauded his clients by using the funds in his IOLTA account to pay debts owed to others, as well as for his own use, Department of Justice officials said.
It was also found that McCullough made false representations and provided a "false and inaccurate" closing statement at least once to clients to prevent his scheme from being revealed, according to the Department of Justice.
Ultimately, McCullough's clients lost around $720,851.05 from the embezzlement scheme, Department of Justice officials said.
McCullough faces a maximum of 20 years in prison when he is sentenced, which has not yet been scheduled. Until then, he is being released, according to the Department of Justice.
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