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Plum attorney to face theft charges

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Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2009

A Plum attorney is accused of taking about $85,000 from a client instead of depositing the money into the right account about four years ago.

On Tuesday, Robert L. Williams, 47, of 140 Cherrywood Drive surrendered to Allegheny County detectives to face multiple charges of theft by deception and theft by failing to deposit a client's money as required.

He is accused of using the money for landscaping and flooring in his upscale Plum house.

Williams was arraigned Tuesday and released on his recognizance pending a preliminary hearing early next month in Pittsburgh.

According a detective's affidavit, Williams helped Alisha L. Branson to obtain a $197,000 mortgage to settle Branson's bankruptcy and improve a house that Branson would then rent out at a residence in Pittsburgh's East End.

Prosecutors allege that Williams took about $85,300 from the money after the bankruptcy was settled.

Attempts to reach Williams and Branson or their attorneys were unsuccessful.

Williams allegedly opened a joint bank account with Branson to receive the mortgage money.

However, he is accused of later opening a construction account, which he solely controlled, and taking money from it for his own purposes.

County district attorney detectives accuse Williams of diverting about $72,500 for landscaping; about $9,400 for new floors; about $3,200 for fencing; and almost $500 for a furnace humidifier.

According to a night court staffer, Williams' preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 5 in Pittsburgh Municipal Court.

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