- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A former prominent Vermont attorney is expected to plead guilty to a federal charge he took up to $550,000 of his clients’ money.

William O’Brien of Winooski reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud, The Burlington Free Press (https://bfpne.ws/2ejTkva) reported Tuesday.

O’Brien is due in court next week. He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

O’Brien once served as the city attorney for Winooski and he represented the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington.

Court documents say O’Brien took between $250,000 and $550,000 from trusts he oversaw.

O’Brien’s law license was suspended last January by the Vermont Professional Responsibility Board. O’Brien’s attorney Scott McGee said O’Brien is ending his legal career.

“Bill O’Brien is cooperating with an investigation conducted by the United States’ Attorney’s Office involving the mishandling of client funds,” McGee said in a statement. “Mr. O’Brien has acknowledged that he failed to maintain a clear separation between his personal funds and funds he was holding for clients, but all funds that were commingled with his own have been restored to the clients affected.”

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