2d Lawyer Accused Of Stealing From Clients John W. Morris Of Haddonfield Admitted Taking $167,721. Another Lawyer Was Charged This Week.

Posted: February 15, 1997

A Haddonfield bankruptcy lawyer yesterday became the second Camden County attorney in two days to appear in a Hall of Justice courtroom in Camden as a defendant facing charges of stealing large amounts of money from clients.

John W. Morris, 47, who is suspended from practicing law but who had his office on Kings Highway in Haddonfield, pleaded guilty to stealing $167,721.45 from 32 clients between 1988 and 1995.

Morris took the money from clients who believed it was being paid to their creditors, said Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Leslie B. Dicker, chief of the Prosecutor's Special Investigations Unit.

Dicker also is prosecuting the case of Camden lawyer Saverio Principato, 66, who was arraigned Thursday on charges of taking more than $1.2 million from the settlement funds of clients whose marital breakups he had handled.

Principato, of Cherry Hill, is being held in the Camden County Jail on $100,000 cash bail.

Both cases were investigated by Richard Worst of the Special Prosecutions Unit.

Morris, a resident of Oakwood Drive in Barrington, pleaded guilty, specifically, to second-degree theft by failure to make required disposition of property.

Acting Camden County Prosecutor Lee A. Solomon said the thefts came to light when several of Morris' clients received notices that their houses were being sold. They said the lawyer had assured them their debts had been resolved.

Dicker said the plea agreement specifies that Morris must receive a seven-year sentence in New Jersey prison and make full restitution to victims.

Morris is to be sentenced by Camden County Superior Court Judge David G. Eynon on April 18.

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