Criminal Justice

Once-missing lawyer pleads guilty to defrauding mom, clients

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A disbarred Missouri lawyer who temporarily disappeared has pleaded guilty to fraud charges stemming from allegations that he obtained money using his mother’s identity and stole client funds.

Jeffrey Witt, arrested in March upon his return from Instanbul, pleaded guilty on Friday to federal charges of bank fraud, aggravated identity theft and mail fraud, report the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KSDK.

Witt was accused of using a client to impersonate his mother so he could obtain a $100,000 line of credit secured by his mother’s home. Prosecutors say Witt took $60,000 from the credit line and used the money for personal expenses.

Witt is also accused of settling some clients’ cases without their knowledge and depositing the money in his law firm account. Prosecutors contend the amount of money stolen was between $200,000 and $400,000; Witt’s lawyer says it was less than that.

Witt was disbarred in June.

Witt was previously in the news for telling police of his suspicion that a former client was responsible for a parking garage bombing that injured a lawyer in suburban St. Louis. The former client later pleaded guilty.

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