Bad Lawyers

Ex-Attorney Arrested for Stealing from Special Needs Clients
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Patrick Bradley

Summary: An attorney is Pennsylvania was disbarred last year and now faces criminal charges for stealing money from the trusts of clients with special needs.

Some attorneys steal from the elderly, others go after those with special needs. A Montgomery County attorney has been arrested for stealing and misappropriating nearly $147,000 from clients’ trusts, who happen to be clients with special needs.


Police allege that Collegeville, Pennsylvania attorney Patrick J. Bradley has been mishandling client funds since 2013. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office received a report on August 1, 2016 from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel for the Supreme Court of Pa. The report included the information the counsel formed after conducting their own investigation into how Bradley managed his funds. The counsel suspended his law license after the investigation in 2015. Bradley continued to practice law without a license and was disbarred just over a year later.

The counsel handed over their information to prosecutors in Montgomery County to decide if criminal charges would be necessary. Their investigation found that the firm Bradley Law established and managed special needs trust arrangements for five clients where Bradley was the sole trustee. They claim that he used the accounts for his own use, taking $116,340 to pay for mortgage payments, food, gas, utility bills, cellphone bills, sporting goods, and movie tickets.

District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said, “He used these accounts as his own personal ATM.” According to the arrest affidavit, Bradley deposited the funds from the trusts into his personal account and then used the money to purchase items from Walmart, Wawa, grocery stores, drug stores, McDonalds, and even a $10 donation to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

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Another seven clients paid Bradley for the legal services related to obtaining orders and guardianship rights for families with special needs members. Bradley collected $31,000 in fees but never performed the work. As Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele noted, he “was put in a position of trust and he took advantage of some good people who were trying to take care of their loved ones by establishing trusts for their ongoing care. He earned their trust, and then preyed on these families.”

The 45-year-old has been charged with multiple counts of theft and handling the proceeds of unlawful activities, including receiving stolen property, deceptive business practices, and unauthorized practice of law. His bail has been set at $250,000 unsecured by District Justice Cathleen Rebar. A preliminary hearing is set for May 2.

Treasurer, Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, of the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security explained that the fund will be able to reimburse some of his clients. The fund is built-up with the collection of annual fees Pennsylvania’s lawyers pay in order to keep their law license. Salavantis stated at a press conference, “It is my hope that through the fund we can restore the trust in the legal profession.” A total of 12 victims have been discovered by the investigation but prosecutors say there may be more and urge anyone to contact county detectives with any additional information.

Do you think there is a lot of attorneys that use a little of the money from their trusts with the intent to replace it immediately? Tell us in the comments below.

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