Pittsburgh estates legal professional facing fees in alleged embezzlement plan

A Pittsburgh legal professional already suspended from working towards law for mishandling client funds is dealing with prison prices that he stole much more than $230,000 from a few estates and improperly charged for his providers.

Gordon D. Fisher, 76, will have a preliminary listening to on April 25 on fees of theft by failure to make deposit of funds acquired, misapplication of entrusted home and theft by deception.

He declined to remark Thursday following a hearing in Orphan’s Court.

A legal criticism filed versus Fisher accuses him of acting improperly with regard to three individual estates.

The 1st case included the estate of Caroline Brayley, a retired professor from the University of Pittsburgh who died in 2016. In that subject, investigators explained Fisher was employed to depict the executor of the estate and diverted $77,122 into his individual personal financial institution accounts above a collection of 15 different transactions.

The grievance also accuses Fisher of billing fraud in that case, saying that he improperly charged additional than $37,000 for representing the executor.

The criticism mentioned Fisher had the estate lender statements sent to his business office and not to the executor, which investigators claimed was an attempt to disguise his misappropriation of money.

They called what he did evidence of an “embezzlement plan.”

In a different estate, that of Ann Ability Wardrop, a very well-recognized arts advocate in Pittsburgh, Fisher was to provide as co-executor. Nevertheless, investigators said he improperly redirected $49,000 to himself via a series of 23 withdrawals.

In the most current scenario, Fisher was appointed to provide as executor and shown as the attorney in the estate of Thomas A. Smith, a pastor who was 88 when he died in 2019.

The criticism stated Fisher transferred a blended $120,370 from Smith’s estate over 18 transactions to his very own accounts. Investigators mentioned Fisher also directed a $10,000 bequest from the estate to Calvary Episcopal Church of Pittsburgh and compensated for a canine fence with Smith’s estate money.

Smith’s will selected that his estate be break up evenly between a scholarship fund in his title in Penn State’s Section of Dairy and Animal Science and a church in Oxford, Mich., the criticism mentioned.

On Thursday, Allegheny County Popular Pleas Judge Joseph K. Williams III eliminated Fisher from serving as the executor on Smith’s estate, citing his ongoing legal expenses and suspension by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Board.

Beneath board rules, Williams explained, a suspended lawyer ought to resign all appointments to roles this kind of as individual agent, executor and administrator.

Fisher argued during Thursday’s hearing that the rule did not implement in a short-term suspension.

“I have the right to continue on to provide as a fiduciary,” Fisher said. “The short term suspension has in no way been heard — likewise with the prison criticism.”

The choose was not swayed.

“Mr. Fisher, what I’m searching at is your history of infractions with the disciplinary board,” Williams explained, citing two prior scenarios there. “I believe that I would be negligent to permit you carry on or keep any resources. You will not act in any fiduciary ability or maintain any funds as of now.”

Paula Reed Ward is a Tribune-Critique staff members author. You can call Paula by e mail at [email protected] or via Twitter .