Dallas Attorney Accused of Sticky Fingers

     DALLAS (CN) – A Dallas personal injury attorney who hosted a call-in TV show faces criminal charges that he stole client money, state prosecutors said.
     Thomas Corea, of Palmer, was arrested Aug. 30 after a Dallas County grand jury indicted him on four-first degree felonies: theft of more than $200,000; misapplication of more than $200,000 by a fiduciary; securing the execution of a document by deception worth more than $200,000; and fraudulent use and possession of identifying information.
     “Corea is accused of stealing settlement funds from his clients’ trust accounts, using false information to secure financial loans, and stealing identities to apply for various loans and credit cards,” the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement Thursday.
     The indictments came after a 7-month investigation.
     Corea and his law firm – The Corea Firm PLLC and Corea Trial Group LLC – have been sued at least 12 times in the past 18 months, according to the Dallas County District Clerk.
     Wells Fargo Financial Leasing and JP Morgan Chase Bank each sued Corea over alleged debts in 2011, and American Express sued him twice in January over alleged debt.
     Corea was sued in July by Accident & Injury Pain Centers, which claimed he failed to pay for medical services it provided for his personal injury clients.
     Corea was also sued at least three times this year for alleged legal malpractice, the latest time on Aug. 23.
     In that case, Howard Wright, of Ellis County, claims he hired Corea to handle his nursing home neglect claim after his father died and that a $225,000 settlement was reached in mediation.
     Wright claims Corea used at least two “fraudulent” excuses to delay paying him the settlement, and that Corea misled him into thinking that Corea had spent several months renegotiating a Medicare lien.
     Wright says he had to file a grievance with the State Bar and hire additional counsel to try to get his money, and that the money was never placed in Corea’s trust account.
     “Moreover, defendant Corea misappropriated fiduciary information to obtain a loan against the settlement, possibly in plaintiff’s name, with the funds from the loan to be paid to defendant Corea,” Wright’s complaint states.
     “On information and belief, defendant Corea spent the entire $225,000 from the settlement on himself and/or fraudulent transferred all or part of the funds at issue to his wife, Jennifer Roberts Corea.”
     Corea is the former host of “Ask the Lawyer with Tom Corea,” a half hour, biweekly legal call-in show on KTXA Channel 21, a CBS station.
     Corea sued the station’s owners in February, claiming they cost hi $1.4 million in lost business by failing to forward all the calls to the show to his office, as promised.

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