NEW YORK - The mystery and intrigue over a local attorney's disappearance takes a new twist.
"We just had information he [Jeffrey Witt] was arriving at Kennedy airport from Istanbul, and so agents were on hand in case that information turned out to be true," said Richard Callahan, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri.
FBI agents nabbed 39-year-old Witt on Friday as he tried to get back into the country. According to Callahan, he had no idea what was waiting for him at the gate.
"Whatever he thought his weekend in New York would be, it didn't turn out," said Callahan.
Witt has been on the run since November. Callahan would not elaborate where he fled other than to say he was well-traveled.
According to public documents, Witt is accused of lying to judges and clients, missing deadlines, missing court hearings, and mishandling money. The father of five children went missing in November after some of those legal problems surfaced. He wasn't arrested for the above allegations.
FBI agents arrested Witt after a grand jury issued a criminal indictment charging him with falsifying documents to obtain a line of credit on a home that did not belong to him. The criminal indictment alleges Witt used a female client to impersonate a homeowner in order to obtain $100,000 line of credit. He then took $60,000 of that money for personal reasons.
When the homeowner found out, the indictment alleges, Witt forged bank documents to show the loan had been cancelled.
According to Callahan, more criminal charges may be coming. His office is hearing from former clients and there are other allegations currently under investigation.
In the meantime, dozens of businesses and former clients remain at risk.
According to Ken Carp, the court appointed attorney who took over Witt's cases, there are a lot of Witt's clients who think they are in good legal shape when in fact they are not. Carp explained, one client paid Witt $300 to take care of a traffic ticket. It wasn't done, and now there is a warrant out for the client's arrest.
Carp says he has spent the past four months trying to organize a mess of files and documents.
"It's like playing 52 card pick up. There were stacks this tall but every other sheet had to do with somebody different," said Carp.
This week, Carp is sending out letters to 1,000 clients and corporations informing them about Witt.
"There are people sitting in jail who don't know that he's not working for them anymore. That's kind of a bad deal," said Carp.
Witt is in federal custody in New York and is expected back in St. Louis sometime next week. If convicted, he could spend the next 30 years in prison.
Kenneth Carp is the Court Appointed Attorney Trustee assisting Witt's former clients. For more information call 314-942-3005.
Before his legal problems, Witt gained some attention as one of the lawyers who helped law enforcement break a high-profile bombing case in Clayton. Milton Ohlsen is now serving 20 years in prison for the bombing that nearly killed a local attorney. It was later learned the attorney was not Ohlsen's intended victim.