MEDIA COURTHOUSE — A Delaware County personal-injury attorney accused of stealing more than $400,000 in settlement funds that were supposed to go to his clients will have a competency hearing next month.
Gregory G. Stagliano, 61, of the 500 block of Chaumont Drive in Radnor, is charged with theft by unlawful taking, theft of services, theft by deception and receiving stolen property, all felonies of the third degree, as well as a misdemeanor count of unauthorized practice of law. He is additionally charged in a separate but related case involving insurance.
Stagliano has been declared incompetent, however, on the basis that he cannot remember the entire period where he allegedly pocketed money that was supposed to go to nine different victims he represented in personal-injury cases.
Former District Attorney Jack Whelan said when announcing the charges in May 2017 that investigators led by county Detective Michele Deery began looking at Stagliano in July 2016, based on a tip from the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.
Investigators found a similar pattern of theft in each of the nine cases, with Stagliano allegedly depositing funds meant for clients into his own Santander Interest on Lawyers Trust Account for personal use.
Stagliano has been represented by three attorneys in the case and previously appeared before Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge Mary Alice Brennan, but the case is now before Senior Judge Michael Coll, who handles competency cases.
Stagliano’s current attorney, John Hickey, filed the competency motion on the basis that without his memory, Stagliano cannot assist in his defense. Hickey and Assistant District Attorney William Judge appeared before Coll at the end of January on that issue.
Coll signed an order Feb. 7 directing Stagliano to seek treatment for restoration of competency, but has since been suspicious of the memory loss claims in subsequent court appearances.
“What a convenient lapse of memory, huh?” the judge asked Hickey at a prior hearing. “It looks like we’re in this position – as long as says he doesn’t remember, he’s going to be deemed to be not competent? That’s unacceptable. That’s unacceptable. How could you tell whether he’s faking it or not?”
Hickey has noted that a court-appointed psychologist, a neuropsychologist and Stagliano’s current treating psychiatrist all back up his claims of memory loss due to a combination of opioids and nerve pain medications he was taking at the time. Hickey added that a brain scan showed Stagliano has a lesion on the part of his brain that controls memory and cognition, which would lend his story some credibility.
Hickey requested a full hearing to litigate the competency issue during a status hearing Wednesday and Coll set a July 15 date. Judge said the attorneys would try to work out any stipulations and discovery issues before that date.
Coll also advised Hickey that he would revoke Stagliano’s bail if he attempted to “alienate” his assets, and that any such assets would be subject to clawbacks, similar to a bankruptcy. Hickey said his client has not attempted to do so.