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Ex-attorney accused in trust fund theft wanted in Tenn.

| Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

A former Westmoreland County attorney accused of taking money from a trust fund belonging to an 18-year-old is wanted by authorities in Tennessee on an unrelated theft charge.

Defense attorney Dante Bertani said he plans to fight extradition for J. Russell McGregor Jr., 52, of Laughlintown.

“We don't think they have any basis to take him back,” Bertani said on Friday. “They have to at least tell us what he's charged with.”

McGregor was arrested in mid-July on multiple counts of theft and receiving stolen property for allegedly taking money from the trust account that was set up after the Greensburg teen's mother died in a vehicle accident in January 2012, according to police.

McGregor was appointed by the court to act as a trustee for the funds, police said. County detectives allege that McGregor took $120,000 from the fund for his personal use between March 2012 and January 2013.

He is being held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $75,000 bail.

Late last month, after receiving information from Tennessee authorities, County Detective Thomas Horan filed a new complaint indicating that investigators in that state wanted to extradite McGregor. Horan said McGregor allegedly stole or did not pay for a moving company vehicle there earlier this year.

After a hearing Friday, Judge Al Bell ruled McGregor's $100,000 bail in the Tennessee case be reduced to a recognizance bond.

McGregor is listed as retired by The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The online record does not indicate when he retired from his Ligonier law practice.

A new date has not been set for a preliminary hearing on the Westmoreland County theft case. The hearing had been scheduled for Friday.

An extradition hearing has not been rescheduled. Bell granted a continuance on Thursday for 60 days to permit Bertani to file motions, according to a court order.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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