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Missing lawyer is arrested upon return from Turkey; indictment alleges bank fraud

Posted Mar 10, 2014 7:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A missing Missouri lawyer was arrested on Friday as he arrived in New York on a flight from Istanbul.

An indictment unsealed on Friday accuses the lawyer, Jeffrey Witt, of using a client to impersonate a homeowner to take out a $100,000 line of credit on another person’s home, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Witt is accused of withdrawing $60,000 from the credit line and using it to pay personal expenses, according to the Post-Dispatch, KMOX and KTVI.

Witt is charged with bank fraud and aggravated identity theft, the stories say. He was temporarily suspended in December after he went missing and 58 cases were found to be in disarray. An ethics complaint filed in October accuses Witt of making misrepresentations to clients and judges, missing deadlines and court appearances and mishandling money, the Post-Dispatch says. He is also facing a $1 million judgment against him and his law firm in a malpractice case.

Witt was previously in the news for reporting suspicions that a former client could have been the person responsible in a car garage bombing that nearly killed another lawyer. The former client later pleaded guilty and is in prison.

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