Former Bridgeport attorney pleads guilty to wire fraud

A former Newtown resident who operated a law practice in Bridgeport pleaded guilty Wednesday, May 30, to stealing more than $1 million.

Thomas Murtha, 62, now of Birmingham, Mich., entered a guilty plea to one count of wire fraud at federal court in Hartford.

John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, said Murtha operated a law practice under the name Maher & Murtha LLC in Bridgeport. Beginning in approximately November 2011, Murtha stole at least $1.3 million from more than 20 individuals, including law clients, friends and family members. More than $516,000 of the stolen funds were for the benefit of an individual with mental health issues. As part of the scheme, Murtha submitted false or forged documents to victims, according to Durham.  Murtha also incurred charges on credit cards in the names of others without their knowledge or permission.

The investigation revealed that Murtha used some of the stolen funds in connection with the purchase of a $725,000 house in Michigan.

In September 2016, Murtha resigned from the bar after three grievance complaints were filed against him. He was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on April 5, 2017, and a grand jury returned a multi-count indictment against him on Aug. 16, 2017.

Murtha is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea on Sept. 11. He faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

Murtha has agreed to pay total restitution of at least $1,364,119.15, and to forfeit his interests in the house in Michigan and a 2.11-carat diamond engagement ring that the government has seized.

Murtha is free on a $10,000 bond pending sentencing.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Greenwich Police Department, with the assistance of the Connecticut Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer R. Laraia and David T. Huang.