A Fayette County attorney whose law license was suspended last year has been charged with wire fraud in federal court.

On Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania alleged John William “JW” Eddy, 39, misappropriated $242,975.89 in funds from clients of his law practice between June 2016 and early 2020.

Prosecutors said Eddy, a former deputy prosecutor in Fayette County, was required to maintain a bank account specifically for client funds, also known as an Interest on Lawyer Trust Account (IOLTA). The IOLTA was to be used to secure client funds, such as proceeds from legal settlements, fees advanced for services not yet performed, or money for court fees.

Court documents said that on Aug. 26, 2015, an individual identified as only D.B.F. died, and Eddy was retained as an attorney by the executor of D.B.F.’s estate to represent the estate in a lawsuit concerning a personal injury claim for D.B.F.’s death.

Eddy was to be paid a legal fee equivalent to one-third of any money recovered through the lawsuit.

Eddy settled the suit matter for approximately $100,000 and deposited it into the IOLTA account on June 27, 2016.

Prosecutors said that Eddy dispersed about $33,843.11 to himself, which included the fees and costs owed to him for the settlement. On Aug. 24, 2016, he disbursed about $15,000 to the executor of the estate for her fees, and on Aug. 26, 2016, Eddy was entrusted with approximately $51,156.89 on behalf of the estate.

Following that, prosecutors said a tax dispute arose regarding the amount of estate taxes owed, and a letter was sent to Eddy, stating the total amount due was over $10,000.

Eddy then forwarded a copy of that letter to D.B.F.’s son on April 28, 2017, and in June, Eddy filed an appeal on the estate’s behalf with the state Department of Revenue. Three months later, he paid about half of the money due to D.B.F.’s family as the appeal was waiting to be resolved.

In early 2018, Eddy received a letter from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania requesting an answer to the complaint by a former client and in his response, Eddy allegedly admitted that he had not maintained proper bookkeeping records or monthly reconciliations for individual clients’ funds.

Prosecutors alleged that, from about May 2017 to early 2020, Eddy’s IOLTA account was out of balance. Court records alleged that was because he used money from that account for his personal use.

When D.B.F.’s son contacted Eddy asking for the balance of the funds in 2018 and 2019, Eddy allegedly told him that certain “tax issues” had to be resolved before he could make a distribution.

Prosecutors contended Eddy was unable to make the distribution because he had misappropriated the funds.

In early June 2019, Eddy was arrested and then charged with DUI and possession of a controlled substance.

From the time of his arrest until early 2020, Eddy received a series of personal loans that he used to repay clients whose funds he had allegedly misappropriated from the IOLTA account, which totaled $242,975.89, of which $26,156.89 was the balance owed to the D.B.F. estate, court records state.

Along with the charges filed on Monday, prosecutors also filed in federal court information that Eddy is expected to enter a guilty plea in the case. Details of that plea were not available in court filings.

Eddy was admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania on Oct. 24, 2008, and has served as an assistant district attorney, solicitor for the City of Uniontown and ran his own private practice, Eddy Law Office. Eddy’s law license was suspended on June 4, 2021.

The suspension will last three years, and was retroactive to Sept. 6, 2019.

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