Chester County paralegal accused of pilfering clients' estates

A Chester County paralegal allegedly stole more than $140,000 from families that hired her to manage the estates of deceased relatives, Bucks County prosecutors said Friday.

Patricia Ann Fisher, 52, of West Bradford, was arraigned on multiple counts of theft and receiving stolen property Dec. 22, after two Quakertown men reported money missing from their father's estate.

Bucks County detectives said they later linked her to thefts from at least three other families. Fisher also allegedly paid herself a total $33,600 for her services - a fee one estate-law attorney described in court documents as "outrageous" under normal circumstances.

Fisher could not be reached for comment Friday. It was unclear whether she had retained an attorney.

According to the criminal complaint filed in her case, two men who described Fisher as a family friend hired her to administer $145,000 from the estate of their deceased father, Fred K. Phillips III. But they became suspicious when a check drawing on the account bounced.

When they questioned Fisher about the missing funds, she purportedly told them she had taken between $80,000 and $100,000 for her own use. In addition, she paid herself $6,000 in funds as an administrative fee, court records indicate.

After opening their investigation into her work, detectives allegedly found large payments totaling $87,000 from three other estates she was managing into her personal bank account. Only about one-third of that money was accounted for as administrative fees.

Fisher is the owner of the Exton-based Chester County Freelance Paralegal Services and a former secretary of the Chester County Paralegal Association, according to her company's website.

Phone calls placed to the business late Friday were not returned.

Fisher is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Feb. 3.


Contact staff writer Jeremy Roebuck at 267-564-5218, jroebuck@phillynews.com, or @inqmontco on Twitter.