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Former New Kensington attorney gets early release

A former New Kensington lawyer serving time for swindling more than $280,000 from his clients was to be released from jail last night, nearly five months before he was scheduled for parole.

Westmoreland County Judge John Blahovec on Tuesday granted an early parole to Michael David Nardelli, saying the one-time lawyer is ready to re-enter society.

Nardelli, 43, pleaded guilty to 63 felony counts of theft and forgery in August. In January, Blahovec sentenced him to 11 12 to 23 months in jail and 10 years of probation.

Nardelli appeared in court yesterday to ask for early parole.

"In my mind, because of what happened, you needed to go to jail," Blahovec said. "What I'm most concerned about now is getting money back for these victims. You have started to take steps in the long road back."

As part of the jail's work release program, Nardelli has been employed since February as a laborer in a wood refinishing shop. During that time, he has made monthly payments of nearly $600 to the courts. Some of that money has been used to repay victims, according to defense attorney Wayne McGrew.

In 2008, Nardelli agreed to a voluntary disbarment after the thefts were disclosed.

According to court records, Nardelli began taking money from clients in 2002. Police said Nardelli took money from escrow accounts for personal use. He also pleaded guilty to forging dozens of checks from a company he represented.

"He was behind in payments, and it just snowballed," McGrew said yesterday, relaying Nardelli's explanation for the theft.

Nardelli, who worked as an attorney in his family's New Kensington law firm, told Blahovec that he had learned from his jail experience.

"I don't know how something like this doesn't change somebody," Nardelli said.

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