A former Connecticut lawyer who practiced in Stamford pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud stemming from an embezzlement scheme, according to federal authorities.
William McCullough, 62, now of Westerly, Rhode Island, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty this week before US District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport, according to federal authorities.
Authorities, citing court documents and statements made in court, said that, before he resigned from the Connecticut bar in 2019, McCullough operated a law practice in Stamford for several years and during that time worked on clients’ real estate transactions, receiving funds from clients that he knew he was required to deposit funds in a Lawyers’ Trust Account and use them “in accordance with his duties to each client.”
The Connecticut Statewide Grievance Committee audited McCullough’s IOLTA Account in 2018 and found that “he had failed to maintain required documents for several years. The audit revealed that more than $1.27 million was due to clients, but the IOLTA Account held less than $600,000,” federal authorities said in a statement. “A subsequent criminal investigation revealed that McCullough defrauded clients by using funds in his IOLTA Account to cover funds owed to others, and for his own use.
“McCullough made false representations to clients, including providing a false and inaccurate closing statement to at least one individual, to prevent the scheme from being uncovered,” the statement said.
McCullough’s clients lost about $720,851 as a result of this scheme, according to federal authorities.
McCullough is free pending sentencing and faces up to 20 years in prison. The case was investigated by the US Secret Service and the Wallingford Police Department.