Disgraced Wollongong lawyer Nigel Duncan has admitted to a multimillion-dollar fraud, with court documents revealing he used some of the money to pay his mortgage and to cover his late mother's expenses.
The former Maguire and McInerney employee - and veteran of the legal industry - carried out a $2.1 million fraud scam over a six-year period from 2011, which saw him misappropriate almost $758,000 from deceased estates.
The remaining funds in the scam - some $1.39 million - were made up of fraudulent financial transactions Duncan made to cover his tracks.
The 65-year-old pleaded guilty to two counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception in Wollongong Local Court on Wednesday.
Agreed facts tendered to the court revealed an investigation was launched after a complaint from a client in 2017.
Duncan had paid $7262 from one deceased estate into another; a payment that should have come from the law firm's trust account.
"Paying it from the account of another deceased estate in this way is fraudulent and unethical," police said.
Maguire and McInerney reimbursed the money to the correct estate, required Duncan to pay back the same amount and brought in a team of forensic accountants, who revealed the extent of the theft.
Duncan was fired, the firm notified affected parties and took out a loan to repay them in full.
Police said Duncan misappropriated trust money totalling $2,148,437.13 - held by Maguire and McInerney for deceased estate matters - on more than 120 occasions.
The money was from the firm's trust account and two power money accounts Duncan operated as the sole executor of deceased estates.
He misappropriated $757,993.84 from 20 deceased estates for his own personal gain; using the cash to pay his mortgage, personal debts, debts of his late mother and to pay his sister.
Most of the money was used on the mortgage ($228,376.76) and paid into his bank account ($118,331.57), the facts said.
Police said Duncan also "robbed Peter to pay Paul" on 20 occasions, using trust money to make fraudulent transactions (totalling $1,390,442.93) from various estates to reimburse beneficiaries of other estates from which he had previously misappropriated money.
Duncan was arrested by Wollongong detectives at Dubbo police station on December 10.
In an interview, police said he couldn't explain why the offences occurred, that he was scattered at the time, and didn't have a plan but thought he would be able to somehow "balance everything out".
Duncan will be sentenced in Wollongong District Court. He remains on bail and will next appear in court on June 14.