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.

A Pennsylvania attorney was charged with fraud after he was accused of embezzling his client’s funds, prosecutors said in a Jan. 10 press release.

John William “JW” Eddy has been charged with wire fraud charges. According to the pleading documents, the 39-year-old should plead guilty.

Eddy was the Assistant District Attorney for Fayette County, an attorney for Uniontown, and an in-practice attorney, according to court documents.

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

Eddy had to keep funds for his client’s cases on an Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA), but instead used the money for other purposes, the press release 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 lawsuit for assault and told the family that a tax problem was holding their money back.

“In the next few years the deficit continued to grow due to additional embezzlement,” said the court files.

On various occasions, according to court documents, Eddy spent the money entrusted to him to customers. In the end, he took out personal loans to repay customers whose funds he had used improperly and paid them back the entire amount, prosecutors said.

As decided in 2021, but starting retrospectively in 2019, Eddy has been suspended from the legal profession for three years, according to a disciplinary committee of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

During this time Eddy struggled with mental health problems and substance abuse. He was arrested in 2019 and charged with DUI and possession of a controlled substance after becoming addicted to opioids after surgery, according to the Disciplinary Committee and court documents.

According to Eddy’s psychiatrist, “There is a causal relationship between (Eddy’s) diagnosed depression, anxiety, and substance abuse and his professional misconduct.”

He expressed “sincere and genuine remorse” for his actions, the Disciplinary Committee said in the June 2021 documents.

Eddy faces up to 20 years imprisonment for wire fraud.

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Mariah Rush is a national real-time reporter. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and has previously worked for The Chicago Tribune, The Tampa Bay Times, and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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