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Former Collegeville lawyer charged with stealing from special-needs clients

Montgomery County prosecutors say Patrick J. Bradley used the accounts of his clients as his "personal ATM," stealing money that he used to cover his own bills and personal expenses.

A disbarred lawyer from Montgomery County has been charged with stealing money from clients with special needs.

Patrick J. Bradley, 45, of Collegeville, hired as the trustee for trust accounts or to do legal work on their behalf, allegedly took more than $145,000 from 12 clients. Bradley stole from the accounts or failed to perform work for which he had been paid, District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said at a news conference Tuesday in Norristown.

"He used these accounts as his own personal ATM," Steele said.

Bradley used stolen funds to pay his mortgage, cellphone and utility bills, and purchase gas, meals, movie tickets, and sporting goods, Steele said.

The withdrawals from his account, made after depositing funds into it from clients' accounts, included items purchased at Wawa, Walmart, and grocery stores, McDonald's restaurants, and drug stores -- and even a $10 donation to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's campaign for president, according to an arrest affidavit filed in the case.

The state Supreme Court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel referred the case to prosecutors in August after receiving complaints about Bradley and conducting its own investigation.

Steele said the disciplinary office suspended Bradley's license in 2015, but he continued to practice law without it until he was disbarred in September.

Bradley came "into this role as a guardian for these folks, and has taken advantage and preyed upon them, the most vulnerable," Steele said.

Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis, treasurer of the Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security, said the fund would be used to reimburse some of Bradley's clients. The fund collects money from annual fees Pennsylvania lawyers pay to maintain their law licenses.

"It is my hope that through the fund we can restore the trust in the legal profession," she said at Tuesday's news conference.

Bradley was arraigned Monday and was released on unsecured bail.  He is facing multiple felony charges of theft and other crimes.

There was no answer Tuesday morning at the phone number listed for his home in Collegeville, and he does not yet have a lawyer listed in court documents. The phone line at his former law office has been disconnected.

Steele said there may be more victims, and urged anyone with information to contact investigators.