Authorities allege ex-Ligonier lawyer stole $120K from fund meant for crash victim's son
When a Greensburg teenager's mother died in a vehicle accident in January 2012, she left a $300,000 insurance policy for her son.
Two local attorneys were appointed by the court afterward — one to act as a guardian and the other as a trustee for the funds from the policy.
When the son, who is now 18, made several unsuccessful attempts to reach J. Russell McGregor, 52, in February to obtain money from the trust account, he reported the situation to Westmoreland County Detective Thomas Horan.
That led authorities to discover that McGregor, a former Ligonier attorney, allegedly took nearly $120,000 from the account, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
“It appears that most of it was personal use,” Horan said.
McGregor was arraigned before District Judge James Albert on Wednesday and is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $75,000 bail. He faces nine counts each of receiving stolen property and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds.
Court records show McGregor is being represented by Attorney Rochelle Bosack. She did not return a phone call seeking comment on Thursday.
McGregor is listed as retired by The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The online record does not indicate when he retired.
After the alleged victim's failed attempts to reach McGregor, he and a friend went to McGregor's law office in early 2013 to retrieve a box of records associated with the trust account, according to the affidavit.
In the box, Horan said he found evidence of seven unauthorized checks totaling $52,000, one $6,000 withdrawal and one $5,000 wire transfer between April 2012 and January 2013. The checks were written to McGregor Law, Ligonier Property Investments, Lonesome Star Farms and Churchill Valley Partners, which is a company McGregor owns, according to the affidavit.
Investigators determined that 19 checks and one electronic transfer totaling $56,000 allegedly were signed by McGregor and deposited into a separate bank account between March 2012 and January 2013.
According to the affidavit, some of the checks were written to McGregor Law while others were made out to cash.
A preliminary hearing before District Judge Denise Thiel is scheduled for next week.
In a separate matter, a federal court judge in December dismissed a lawsuit McGregor filed, claiming his estranged wife married him as a ruse to abscond with part of his family's wealth. The judge ruled that McGregor didn't specify any federal law that allegedly had been violated.
The two are seeking a divorce.
McGregor is the son of the late Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge James R. McGregor Sr., who served 30 years on the bench.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.