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N.S. lawyer admits embezzling 'friendly-fire' funds

A high-profile lawyer who sued the U.S. government for the mother of a Canadian soldier killed by American friendly fire has admitted he embezzled money from his clients, CBC Radio reports.

A disciplinary board with the Nova Scotia Barristers Society heard that Dick Murtha billed for work he didn't do, hid insurance settlements from recipients and took out high-interest loans for clients without their knowledge, according to CBC.

That has added up to $200,000 now missing from his clients' accounts.

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Darrell Pink of the society says Mr. Murtha violated almost every trust account regulation for maintaining books appropriately.

Mr. Murtha, a decorated war veteran, is claiming he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder that dates back to his time in Vietnam, where he served with the U.S. Marines.

His lawyer, Brian Smith, says the 9-11 terrorist attacks and Mr. Murtha's work with Canadian families who lost relatives in the friendly fire bombing in Afghanistan have worsened his condition.

Mr. Murtha will be banned from practising law in Nova Scotia and his clients will be reimbursed by his insurance company or the barristers society, CBC reported.

Mr. Murtha was suspended last January while the society conducted its investigation. His office in nearby Lower Sackville, N.S., has been closed and the society transferred his files and clients to other lawyers with the help of a receiver.

Mr. Murtha represented the mother of Pte. Richard Green, who was killed in Afghanistan with three other soldiers when a U.S. pilot dropped a laser-guided bomb on their position during a night-firing exercise in 2002.

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