NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

July 16, 2013

Merrimac lawyer guilty in embezzlement scheme

WOBURN — A Merrimac lawyer pleaded guilty last Thursday for his role in a scheme that saw his wife embezzle $1 million from clients and was sentenced to two years in jail and four years’ probation.

Middlesex Superior Court Judge Sandra Hamlin sentenced 49-year-old Peter Unitt III to two years in a house of correction, with four months to serve, deemed served, and the balance suspended for a period of four years’ probation. In addition, the defendant is ordered to pay restitution, which will be decided during a hearing scheduled for September.

Unitt’s wife, Lee Peck Eu Unitt, 48, of Merrimac, was found guilty April 29 following a 10-day jury trial in Middlesex Superior Court on charges of felony larceny (four counts), fiduciary embezzlement and being a common and notorious thief. Lee Unitt was sentenced to four consecutive two-year terms in state prison on the larceny counts with up to 20 years probation from and after her prison sentence, according to Middlesex County prosecutors.

As part of her probation conditions, Lee Unitt must stay away and have no contact with her victims, pay full restitution, cannot apply for a passport without court approval, must not work in a law office or any financial services office during the term of probation, must make full financial disclosure of assets as requested by probation and make tax returns available for inspection.

“Through this scheme, the defendants conspired and stole hundreds of thousands from clients and friends who trusted them and, in turn, used the money to fund their own extravagant personal lifestyle,” Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan said.

According to authorities, Unitt practiced law at his law office in Woburn that was known as The Crest Group, LLC. Lee Unitt worked at the firm as a secretary, business manager and paralegal.

While at her trial, Lee Unitt was proven to be the more culpable party in that it appeared the embezzlement scheme was her brainchild. Unitt served a major role in the scheme by being the sole signatory on the accounts and using the clients’ funds for his and wife’s extravagant lifestyle.

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