Missing Lake Worth attorney Timothy McCabe is described as a “one-time parishioner turned full-time charlatan” in the latest lawsuit seeking to recoup client money the 55-year-old is alleged to have taken to maintain a maze of investment schemes.
The lawsuit filed in Palm Beach County by prominent South Florida attorney William Scherer accuses McCabe, who disappeared in early April, of swindling $67,000 from a Realtor who fell for McCabe’s business pitches about investing in short sale deals and his new Cruise Superstore.
McCabe was last seen by his family April 2 before he sent cryptic emails about his secret and “devastating” financial dealings. His law firm’s bank accounts were soon discovered to be missing millions of dollars.
“As McCabe’s façade crumbles, the pieces left behind are of a man deeply financially troubled, who defrauded investors through bogus investments, and who stole client money entrusted to him for use in his own personal enterprises,” wrote Scherer, who also represents victims of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein.
According to the 24-page lawsuit, Realtor Timothy Sweetman was introduced to McCabe by McCabe’s business associate and office manager Shane Santacroce. In October, Sweetman gave McCabe $50,000 to buy a short sale, but when the deal hadn’t closed by March, Sweetman asked for his money back.
On March 28, Sweetman received a check for $50,000 from McCabe. He had previously received $13,000, but learned two days after McCabe’s disappearance that the check bounced.
Sweetman also allegedly gave McCabe a $30,000 loan to jumpstart the Deerfield Beach-based Cruise Superstore, a discount booking service that lists McCabe as manager in state records. Sweetman was supposed to get $40,000 in return and was given a promissory note executed by McCabe’s business partner Timothy Henry.
When Sweetman learned McCabe was gone, he called Henry, who said he had no knowledge of the loan and that his signature on the note had been forged.
The FBI is taking the lead on the McCabe investigation with help from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Boca Raton Police Department. McCabe, a devout Catholic, lived in Boca Raton with his wife and three daughters.
In addittion to complaints piling up from clients, McCabe is also facing a possible lawsuit in conjunction with a Federal Trade Commission case against a Fort Lauderdale-based company that prosecutors say took advantage of struggling homeowners.
McCabe allegedly got clients from a call center that solicited homeowners in danger of foreclosure, connecting them with attorneys for charges of up to $750 per month.
Attorney Charles Lichtman, who is the receiver in charge of recouping homeowner money in the FTC case against Prime Legal Plans, said thousands of homeowners nationwide had more than $20 million taken by the company and its offshoots. McCabe received more than $300,000.
“(McCabe) is not named in the underlying FTC case, but I’ll be bringing a case soon,” Lichtman said. “We know he got money from Prime Legal and we know he was doing work for them.”
Earlier this month, McCabe was sued by a Broward County couple who said he took $112,000 of their money and used it to pay off his own mortgage.