WOBURN — A now-disbarred Lawrence attorney was found guilty of stealing more than $1 million from multiple clients through a series of financial schemes, Attorney General Martha Coakley and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan announced yesterday.
After a nine-day trial, Phillip Thompson, 35, of Lawrence, was convicted 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.
Thompson will be sentenced in Middlesex Superior Court Jan. 30.
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.
“This defendant stole more than $1 million from vulnerable clients, including non-English speakers and in one case, someone over the age of 60,” said Coakley, in a joint 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,” Coakley said.
“Over a number of years, this defendant, a lawyer, was intentionally and consistently stealing large sums of money from clients,” said Ryan, in the joint statement.
Thompson stole clients’ money and instead of helping them complete mortgage transactions, he used the cash to pay for his BMW and for large withdrawals. The defendant knew his actions were illegal and yet he continued this scheme, which left many victims at a significant financial loss, Coakley and Ryan said.
On Nov. 29, 2011, the Middlesex DA’s Office indicted Thompson on charges in connection with thefts from a client and a local bank, Sovereign Bank, now known as Santander.
The AG’s Office indicted and arraigned Thompson in Essex Superior Court on additional charges in the summer of 2013. Those charges were consolidated into Middlesex Superior Court as they were related to the open case in Middlesex and were part of a continuing scheme by Thompson, acting as their attorney, to defraud his clients.
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 2010, the Middlesex DA’s office began their investigation into fraudulent activities by Thompson after receiving a report of a theft from Sovereign Bank in Lowell.
The investigation revealed that the defendant 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.
Subsequently, to replace the money from that theft, Thompson stole again by negotiating a withdrawal of approximately $450,000 from Sovereign Bank from accounts with insufficient funds.
Coakley’s office began the 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.