Former Spector Gadon & Rosen attorney Gomer Thomas Williams III pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to one count of wire fraud related to his theft of more than $500,000 from some of his former firm’s trusts and estates clients.
Williams, 54, was charged in an information by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania with stealing $503,361 from four clients through his role as either trustee or administrator of those clients’ trusts or estates, according to the information, which also alleged Williams overbilled clients. The alleged theft took place between 2007 and 2012.
When U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania asked Williams on Monday why he was pleading guilty, Williams said, “I committed the crimes I’m accused of and have confessed.”
“I have no additional defenses, so a trial would be a waste of everyone’s time,” Williams said.
Williams was represented at the plea hearing by Cozen O’Connor white-collar defense attorney William J. Winning. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen represented the federal government in the case.
Williams said he took money from clients over a nearly five-year period to pay his own bills and debts. Lappen said the sole count of wire fraud Williams pleaded guilty to involved the 2012 interstate transfer of more than $8,500 from a client’s bank account in Pennsylvania to an account in Florida that covered Williams’ mortgage.
Lappen said about $222,000 of the $503,361 in total funds stolen was done through Williams transferring money from the client accounts to his own. The rest of the theft was done through overbilling two of the clients by more than $280,000, Lappen said.
Lappen told the judge his office was not investigating Williams, but rather learned of the theft from Williams through Winning. Winning pointed out that Williams, again through Winning, also was the one to inform Spector Gadon of the theft.
Lappen said Spector Gadon assisted his office in determining how much Williams overbilled the clients.
Lappen told Davis the parties stipulated to the fact that Williams had a base offense level of 7, which was increased by 14 levels because of the amount of money stolen and another two levels because of Williams’ abuse of a position of power. Lappen said Williams was eligible for a three-level downward adjustment because of his “timely acceptance of responsibility.” That would put him at an offense level of 20. And assuming he has no prior criminal history, that would place Williams at a 33- to 41-month sentencing range under the suggested federal guidelines.
Davis told Williams “I don’t know enough about you” to have a sentence in mind. He set a sentencing date for June 23. A representative from the probation office, charged with issuing a pre-sentencing report, suggested Williams be released on a $50,000 unsecured bond and surrender his passport and any firearms he may own. The judge agreed.
According to the information, Williams was an associate at Spector Gadon, representing clients in trusts and estates matters. The law firm paid him 40 percent of the legal fees collected from Williams’ clients, the information said.
According to the information, Williams exercised complete control over the financial accounts of the two trusts and two estates at issue, including having check-writing authority of the associated checking accounts.
Spector Gadon billed the clients an hourly rate for the time Williams reported working on their matters. Williams collected those fees by writing checks from the clients’ bank accounts, making the checks payable to Spector Gadon, according to the information.
Williams allegedly opened checking accounts for the trusts and estates where he also had personal bank accounts so that he could easily transfer the clients’ funds to his own accounts, the information alleged. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in the information that Williams diverted these funds to pay for personal expenses that included personal loans and mortgage bills.
Aside from allegedly transferring money from the clients’ accounts to his own, Williams also allegedly billed two of the clients for legal services he didn’t provide, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. According to the information, in an effort to increase his compensation, Williams billed the J.H. trust approximately $210,206 and the M.K. estate approximately $71,135 for legal services not provided.
Paul Rosen of Spector Gadon said when the information was filed Jan. 30 that Williams was removed from the firm the day Winning reported the theft and all of the clients were contacted and fully reimbursed by the firm for any losses.
“There were no repercussions by any of the clients because all of the clients that had any issues in his matters were resolved amicably through the payments by our firm,” Rosen had said.