A former solicitor who went on the run for 12 years has admitted swindling clients out of more than £1m.
John Fitzpatrick, 65, disappeared in 2001, after an investigation was started TI Clough and Company in Bradford.
The company had already been shut down by the Law Society after hearing customers’ cash was used to stave off bankruptcy. The offences took place between 1996 and 2001.
Fitzpatrick was struck off the Roll of Solicitors in March 2002. He disappeared – but was extradited from South Africa on 22 July 2013.
He appeared at Sheffield Crown Court on November 11 where he pleaded guilty to seven charges of theft and two charges of obtaining money transfers by deception, involving a total sum of £1,157,000.
His case was linked to six other people who were sentenced to more than 16 years in jail for mortgage application fraud.
Applications for mortgage loans over the value of the properties were made. False documents, forged documents and other misleading information supported the applications. Money acquired through these fraudulent applications was then laundered through the client account of a solicitor’s firm in Manchester where one of the defendants worked. The defendants were charged in July 2003 after the Serious Fraud Office and the West Yorkshire Police Economic Crime Unit’s joint investigation, started in January 2001. Fitzpatrick will be sentenced on December 17 at Sheffield Crown Court.