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Fugitive Chapel Hill Lawyer Arrested

Posted August 31, 2007

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— A Chapel Hill lawyer suspected of embezzling more than $1 million from clients was arrested Friday morning in Arizona, authorities said.

Phoenix police officers arrested John Gregory McCormick, 59, at about midnight local time (3 a.m. EDT), authorities said. He was being held without bond in Arizona, pending extradition to North Carolina.

McCormick turned over his driver's license to a Phoenix officer who asked three men sitting in a park for identification, Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said. When the officer checked the license, he found that McCormick was wanted in North Carolina, Woodall said.

The arrest ended a 13-month international search that included checks of airline passenger lists, credit card records and other databases for a trace of the missing attorney. At one point, McCormick reportedly was seen in Central or South America.

Federal authorities had charged McCormick with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He also faces a charge of embezzling more than $802,000 in North Carolina and is suspected to have stolen more than $1 million.

McCormick went missing on July 13, 2006, when his car was found abandoned at an Orange County entrance to Duke Forest. At about the same time, authorities began looking into allegations that money was missing from the accounts of McCormick's clients.

"From the beginning, it was a great tragedy for him personally, his family and the legal community he served as well," said John Stewart, a Chapel Hill attorney who has known McCormick for 30 years.

The board of education for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools quickly terminated its contract with McCormick, who had represented the district for 20 years. District officials said he never had any access to school funds, however.

The North Carolina State Bar disbarred McCormick in March, ruling that he had violated ethics rules.

Stewart said he still has a hard time believing his friend stole any money.

"How do you disappear with $1 million without a trace?" he said. "I'm not so sure he took it. I feel he robbed Peter to pay Paul to take care of some of the mistakes that he and his office had made."

77 Comments

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  • Bing Used Sep 1, 2007

    Why didn't he spend some of that money on a new ID? Doesn't sound like much for a lawyer.

  • Mimi_Harley_Goddess Sep 1, 2007

    I understand that $1,000,000 in hundred dollar bills weighs 22.5 pounds. They didn't say anything about a suitcase full of cash. How does one live anonymously without cash?

  • djofraleigh Sep 1, 2007

    Doesn't sound like he ran off with money to live the High Life.

    I'd bet that the guy is just hiding out, ashamed of having misused the money before leaving, and couldn't face up. He is a suicide risk, and they should be treating him that way.

    What do the bank records show when they 'follow the money?'

    Amazing what the mind will do to protect its image of itself and its view of reality. Go, run, hide and deny reality doesn't work. He'd be off in jail, feeling like he is being punished and paying his "debt" to society.

  • WRALSUCKS Sep 1, 2007

    I hope this clown gets the book thrown at him. I've got zero sympathy to a shyster who cheats people out of their savings and investments. If he took 800 large and ended up penniless in a park, he put the rest up his nose, or drank it all. To top it off, he put his family through hell, and wasn't man enough to take responsibility for his actions...instead he ran and hid like the coward he is.

    I'll be happy to see this roach sit in jail for 20 years or so.

  • john283594 Sep 1, 2007

    Bluewater, you talk of have-nothings, know-nothings etc...

    This bum you stand up for, was found homeless in a park with two other men, looking like death warmed over. He is a real know-nothing, have-nothing.

    Also people that read news websites, tend to have jobs and good incomes, just ask WRAL marketing for the viewer demographics if you don't believe me.

  • isabella731 Sep 1, 2007

    I'm sorry for what his family has endured. I'm sorry for what his clients have endured. I am NOT sorry for him. Hopefully, he will have to pay for what he's done, and not a farce of a sentence like "one day in jail." In a park at midnight? Lists his address as "transient"? I'd say he wanted to get caught because he ran out of money...

  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go Sep 1, 2007

    Dude looks like ten miles of bad road.

  • one_nc_citizen Sep 1, 2007

    "How do you disappear with $1 million without a trace?"

    i would think the money would make it easier, not harder.

  • then who cares Aug 31, 2007

    The pain and suffering he has put his family through is all the more reason people would have negative comments about the guy! And that's without even thinking about the ones he stole from and what their families may be going through for trusting the thief!! If you're not one of the have-nots then YOU make amends to his family!! We owe him nothing other than what he's getting!! And he earned it!!

  • dhamma Aug 31, 2007

    Wonder why he came back into the US? Did he run out of cash?

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