A $503,000 theft costs Center City lawyer two years

A former estates and trusts lawyer with the firm of Spector Gadon & Rosen P.C. was sentenced to two years in federal prison Monday for stealing $503,000 from client accounts from 2007 through 2012.

Gomer Thomas Williams also was ordered to pay restitution by U.S. District Judge Legrome Davis. Williams faced as many as 20 years in prison, but prosecutors recommended a lighter sentence because he admitted he took the money before anyone else knew it was missing.

At the sentencing, Williams said his sense of shame over thefts from client accounts drove him to turn himself in.

"Significantly, the defendant ... reported his misconduct to his law firm and to the government when neither was investigating the matter," said Louis Lappen, first assistant U.S. attorney.

Prosecutors said Williams, 54, a onetime associate at Spector Gadon, had overbilled clients and paid personal expenses out of client accounts for which he had served as both administrator and trustee.

Lappen said the thefts apparently began after Williams' income declined.

Spector Gadon had no knowledge of the thefts until the firm was approached by Williams' lawyer in August 2012. Paul Rosen, chairman of Spector Gadon, said Williams was let go immediately and the firm made restitution to his clients. The firm also turned over records to the U.S. Attorney's Office to aid the investigation, Rosen said.

"The horror of this is that our name is connected with the person who did this," Rosen said. "The most horrible fact is that every time this lawyer pleads, is sentenced, or is disbarred, our name comes up with this, and it is unfortunate and painful."