Sun Staff Report
WOBURN -- A now-disbarred Lawrence attorney was found guilty Friday of stealing more than $1 million from multiple clients through a series of financial schemes.
After a nine-day trial in Middlesex Superior Court, Phillip Thompson, age 35, formerly of Lowell, was found guilty by a Middlesex Superior Court jury on the charges of larceny over $250 from a person over 60 and larceny over $250 (eight counts).
He will be sentenced in Middlesex Superior Court on Jan. 30.
Authorities allege that between July 2007 and June 2011, Thompson stole more than $900,000 from at least seven clients.
"This defendant stole more than one million dollars from vulnerable clients, including non-English speakers and in one case, someone over the age of sixty," state Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement. "He abused his stature as an attorney to operate a scheme that spanned two counties and involved multiple victims who trusted him with their money, only for him to violate that trust," she said.
The investigation was a joint effort by the AG's office and the Middlesex District Attorney's Office.
"Over a number of years, this defendant, a lawyer, was intentionally and consistently stealing large sums of money from clients," said Middlesex DA Marian Ryan.
Instead of helping clients complete mortgage transactions, as he was entrusted to do, Thompson stole their money and used it to pay for his car payment on his BMW and made large cash withdrawals.
"The defendant knew his actions were illegal and yet he continued this scheme, which has left many victims at a significant financial loss," Ryan said.
In 2010, the Middlesex DA's Office began its investigation into fraudulent activities by Thompson after receiving a report of a theft from the then-Sovereign Bank in Lowell.
The investigation revealed that Thompson stole more than $450,000 from a Malden family in the fall of 2009 by taking the money intended for refinancing the mortgage on their Malden home and converting it to his own personal use.
He never paid their mortgage as he was hired to do. To replace the money from that theft, he stole again by negotiating a withdrawal of approximately $450,000 from Sovereign Bank from accounts with insufficient funds.
The AG's Office began its investigation in 2011 after the matter was referred by the Essex County District Attorney's Office.
The AG's investigation revealed that between July 2007 and June 2011, Thompson stole more than $900,000 from at least seven clients.
In several cases, Thompson represented clients in several real-estate transactions, failing to pay off loans and failing to give funds to clients who were owed money. He also received hundreds of thousands of dollars from mortgage lenders meant to be used for real estate transactions.
However, rather than paying off the old mortgage loans for the transactions, Thompson converted this money for his own use.
In one case, Thompson represented an elderly man and his wife who were seeking to obtain a settlement from their insurance company after their home burned down.
When the insurance company issued more than $416,000 in checks jointly to the clients and Thompson, he converted the funds for his own use and the clients never received any of the money.