NEWTOWN, Conn. -- A Newtown attorney with offices in Bridgeport was charged with defrauding victims of more than $900,000 through a real estate scheme, according to U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly.
Thomas M. Murtha, 61, of Newtown was arrested in Michigan on Wednesday and charged with wire fraud, a federal crime. He appeared before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Michigan and released on a $10,000 bond.
According to the criminal complaint, Murtha operated a law practice in Bridgeport under the name Maher & Murtha LLC. Beginning in August 2015, he defrauded five people of more than $900,000, Daly said. He would make false statements, including one that induced one victim to invest more than $600,000 for a real estate investment, according to Daly. He was also retained to handle real estate transactions for other victims, but instead of remitting funds to the appropriate parties, Daly said he converted the funds to his own use.
In December 2015 Murtha told the victim who'd invested $600,000 that he needed another $100,000 to purchase a $1.5 million property in Bethel, Daly said. He told the victim that a buyer would purchase the property in four to six months to convert it to condominiums, according to Daly. After the victim wired the money, Murtha used it to help purchase a $725,000 house in Birmingham, Michigan under his own name, according to the criminal complaint.
Daly said that Murtha resigned from the bar in September 2016 after three grievance complaints were filed against him.
The charge of wire fraud carries with it a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.