EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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January 31, 2014

Disbarred lawyer sent to prison for 3 years

He begs for 'mercy' and apologizes to clients from whom he stole nearly $1M over 4 years

WOBURN — A disbarred Lawrence attorney apologized for stealing nearly $1 million from his clients and begged a Superior Court judge for mercy yesterday before being sentenced to three years in state prison and ordered to pay restitution.

Handcuffed and dressed in a gray and white pinstriped suit, Phillip Thompson, 35, stood in a Middlesex Superior courtroom and apologized for his “actions, irresponsible conduct and judgments” and acknowledged he “devastated the lives of several of my clients and ultimately changed their lives forever.”

“I want every victim to know that as I stand here today,” Thompson said. “Not a day has gone by that I haven’t labored over their distress.”

On Jan. 16, after a nine day trial, Thompson was found guilty by a Middlesex Superior Court jury on the charges of larceny over $250 from a person over 60 and eight counts of larceny over $250.

Although prosecutors asked for 4 to 5 years in state prison, Judge Kathe Tuttman sentenced Thompson to three years behind bars followed by five years probation. She also ordered him to pay $986,929.80 restitution.

While obviously “extremely intelligent and well educated,” Thompson devastated his clients’ lives, violated their trust in him and “denigrated” his profession as an attorney with his conduct, she said. Some of his victims will suffer long-term consequences, including poor credit ratings, due to Thompson’s crimes.

Thompson worked as an attorney out of his Lawrence law office, primarily specializing in real estate, and also ran a debt collection agency out of his office.

In a joint investigation, authorities discovered Thompson stole more than $900,000 from at least seven clients from 2007 to 2011.

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, the defendant converted the funds for his own use and the clients never received any of the money.

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