Local News

Ex-Fugitive Lawyer Makes First Court Appearance

Posted September 24, 2007

— A Chapel Hill lawyer suspected of stealing more than $1 million from clients returned to Orange County early Monday and made his first court appearance on charges of embezzlement.

Wearing a red jail uniform and glasses with his hair neatly trimmed, John Gregory McCormick politely and appropriately answered the presiding judge's questions, saying he had retained his own attorneys.

Bond remained at $803,186 – the amount authorities have charged him with embezzling. They believe however, he might have stolen more than $1 million.

McCormick, 59, was the target of an international search that included checks of airline passenger lists, credit card records and other databases. He reportedly was seen in Central or South America at one point.

Three weeks ago, he was arrested in Phoenix, Ariz., more than a year after he disappeared. Authorities found him on a park bench in a public park, his appearance disheveled.

Last Tuesday, McCormick was indicted on five additional counts of embezzlement. He previously had faced a single state embezzlement charge. Each count in the indictment handed up by the grand jury refers to a theft of more than $100,000.

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.

Some who know and worked with McCormick say they cannot understand what happened to cause him to go missing.

"I don't know if it was a mid-life crisis," said Durham attorney John Bourlon, who knew McCormick as a colleague and friend for 28 years. "Some have suspected that possibly it was a medical issue."

"If he is, in fact, guilty of this, then I think he should be punished accordingly," Bourlon added.

The North Carolina State Bar disbarred McCormick in March, ruling that he had violated ethics rules. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools terminated its contract with him last year after he had represented the school district for 20 years.

The State Bar has paid out almost $20,000 to some of McCormick's clients, using its Client Security Fund.

"The rest of us will bear that burden for a long time," Bourlon said. "Not just financial, but as far as the profession is concerned. Just like the taint that Mike Nifong has created for the Bar."


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • linnway Sep 25, 2007

    I feel so sorry for his family.

  • tiredofgovtwaste Sep 25, 2007

    "I wonder what happened to his office manager that he supposedly ran away with? No mention of her lately - hedgey_one"

    I thought it was reported that he skipped town with a "him"? Maybe just hearsay? I truly believe that he had a mental breakdown and that he knew not what he did? We can only wish him the best and let him and Mr. Black become friends up in the "big house"

  • JuanGrande v3.0 Sep 25, 2007

    How did they find this guy in Phoenix anyway?

  • richard2 Sep 24, 2007

    How soon will he be able to practice law again? I bet it will soon after probation.

  • mramorak Sep 24, 2007

    So its just up to angela huh?

  • jeebk04 Sep 24, 2007

    Go Angela, Go Angela!!

  • katgoesloco Sep 24, 2007

    I haven't heard that any office manager left at the same time. Where did you hear this information, hedgy_one?

  • Mr. Keeping It Real Sep 24, 2007

    I think the legal process should become more "creative" when punishing these white crime collar criminals. Obviously this guy is not dumb (well, a little for he did get caught) but in order for him to pay his restitution, he should write a book from prison accounting for the last year or so while "M.I.A.", what he did with the money, etc. I definitely am curious to see how he eluded the law for so long. He has an extensive education and should definitely put it to good use for those that trusted him. There is a lot more to this guy.......

  • atozca Sep 24, 2007

    Sounds like this guy definitely took a wrong turn somewhere in life... makes one wonder. Hope his clients recoup their losses or at the very least minimize them.

  • hedgy_one Sep 24, 2007

    How "weird" that this man who managed to steal over $1-million and disappear for over a year would end up on a park bench in Arizona with 61 cents in his pocket.... I think I could have found a country somewhere where I could live "comfortably" for years with that kind of dough!!!! I wonder what happened to his office manager that he supposedly ran away with? No mention of her lately. Of course, she didn't steal the money, but wouldn't she be guilty of "aiding & abetting"????