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3 Bad Lawyers

Latest attorneys gone wild

May 11, 2007


photo of Patrick Crowley
A North Carolina estate lawyer has not only gone wild, he's also gone overseas. Meanwhile, attorneys in Florida and New York are accused of stealing real estate funds from clients.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in a North Carolina federal court, Chapel Hill lawyer John McCormick, who is wanted on charges of stealing more than $1 million from a client's estate, may have fled to Spain.

McCormick has allegedly been on the lam since last July after being accused of stealing more than $1 million from clients. State investigators issued an arrest warrant for him for allegedly embezzling $802,185 from a single client, home builder D.R. Horton Inc.

Horton filed charges after accusing McCormick of taking money from home sales he closed, investigators said.

Court records indicate he was last seen on July 10, hitchhiking in the Duke Forest area near Chapel Hill.

"An individual later came forward and reported that he gave McCormick a ride when he was hitchhiking and transported him" to another location in Chapel Hill, the FBI says in the court affidavit.

The FBI said that in December a family related to McCormick believe they spotted him in Spain.

McCormick, the FBI said, "traveled ... with the intent to avoid capture and prosecution."

A federal magistrate signed an arrest warrant, but it is not clear if the FBI has apprehended or located McCormick. The agency is not commenting.

Another lawyer is in trouble after admitting to stealing more than $678,000 from clients that was supposed to pay off clients' first mortgages.

Now, prosecutors in Staten Island, N.Y., say, some of the clients face foreclosure and tainted credit.

Lawyer Dennis Vourderis, 51, has pleaded guilty to the thefts in a New York court. He faces up to 12 years in prison.

"Dennis Vourderis ... betrayed the fiduciary responsibility placed in him by his clients by purposely misappropriating, for his personal use, the funds remitted to him for financial transactions," Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan said in a statement. "As a result ... three individuals are facing serious financial issues and one victim is even facing bank foreclosure of his home."

Donovan said in one case, Vourderis represented a 51-year-old man in the refinancing of his home for $190,000. Vourderis was supposed to pay-off the client's first mortgage of $135,000 and a second mortgage of $37,000. The client was then supposed to receive $7,000.

But Vourderis only paid the second mortgage and kept the remainder of the money, Donovan said. The client is losing his home in a foreclosure, he said.

Vourderis ran similar scams to bilk clients, Donovan said.

Vourderis was also charged with depositing checks for $67,000 and $68,000 from a real estate firm where he was using desk space.

In Florida, a lawyer that represented a real estate investor under scrutiny faces the possibility of losing his license.

The Florida Bar Association Board of Governor's is set to decide if complaints against lawyer John Yanchek of Sarasota will be forwarded to the Florida Supreme Court, Creston Nelson-Morrill, the bar spokeswoman, told

Yanchek has been accused of mishandling the sale of client's home. The client filed a complaint alleging fraud, misrepresentation and other charges, Nelson-Morrill said.

In March, a bar grievance committee found probable cause that Yanchek violated rules handling escrow accounts. He could not be reached to comment.

Yanchek is best known in Florida as the lawyer for Neil Mohamed Husani, whose real estate dealings have caught the attention of the media and federal investigators.

Patrick Crowley is a feature journalist and blogger for He is also a reporter, blogger and columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer.
e-mail Patrick at: [email protected]

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