Lawyer accused of defrauding his law firm by secretly referring its clients to outside lawyers
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Federal prosecutors have accused a Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer of defrauding his law firm out of about $4.2 million in legal fees and costs by secretly referring its clients to outside lawyers and taking a cut of the recovery.
Mittin worked at his firm, Gay Chacker & Mittin, for 38 years, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal. The firm has since changed its name to Gay & Chacker.
Mittin would receive referral fees averaging 33% to 40% of contingency fees obtained by the outside lawyers, as well as reimbursement for costs incurred by his firm before the referrals, prosecutors alleged in a press release.
Prosecutors said Mittin referred the clients to outside lawyers, although they didn’t request it. Often, the clients didn’t know that their matter was being referred to another lawyer.
Mittin allegedly hid his conduct from the firm by making it appear that the cases weren’t viable and by closing the case files without listing a settlement or resolution. His conduct happened over the course of 10 years, prosecutors say.
Mittin mostly handled lower-value personal injury matters at his law firm that did not result in trials, according to the federal court filing charges, filed July 18. He received an annual salary at the firm and only received a percentage of financial recoveries in his matters when he achieved a set benchmark.
Mittin’s lawyer did not comment when contacted by the Philadelphia Business Journal. He did not immediately respond to a message left by the ABA Journal at a number listed for him online.