Local News

Chapel Hill Lawyer Faces More Embezzlement Charges

Posted September 20, 2007 11:41 a.m. EDT
Updated September 20, 2007 5:14 p.m. EDT

— A Chapel Hill lawyer suspected of stealing more than $1 million from clients was indicted this week on five counts of embezzlement.

John Gregory McCormick, 59, could return to Orange County as early as next week, authorities said. He was arrested three weeks ago in Phoenix, Ariz.

McCormick had been the target of an international search that lasted for more than a year. Authorities checked airline passenger lists, credit card records and other databases for a trace of the missing attorney, who reportedly had been seen in Central or South America at one point.

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.

Federal authorities had charged McCormick with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He also was charged with embezzling more than $803,000 in North Carolina and is suspected to have stolen more than $1 million.

McCormick previously faced a single embezzlement charge. Each of the indictments handed down by the grand jury refers to the theft of more than $100,000.

Based on the charges, Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan on Thursday set a cash bond of $803,186 for McCormick, meaning the amount would need to be paid in full to be released from jail.

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.