FOX 29 Investigates has new information on a Garden State bankruptcy lawyer accused of taking clients' money but not filing their cases.
Those clients are now helping prosecutors build a case against him by testifying before a grand jury. Investigative Reporter Jeff Cole had the latest on the story he first brought us in the spring.
His name is Philip F. Drinkwater III, and we've learned five of his former clients went before the panel Wednesday in Gloucester County, testifying that they paid the Pitman attorney thousands to handle bankruptcies.
Clients say he not only failed to file their cases, but didn't refund their money.
Drinkwater claims a "major depressive event and anxiety" forced him to stop practicing, and a trustee was appointed to handle his law office finances. He also claims someone stole from him.
But now authorities are taking a hard look at whether he broke the law.
In May, we found Drinkwater in the hills of Pennsylvania and asked him about some advice clients say he gave them.
"Why did you tell people to stop paying their mortgages? It significantly hurt them," Cole asked.
"Without giving you a course in bankruptcy, I can't answer all of your questions," Drinkwater responded.
"I don't need a course in bankruptcy. I just – people want to know where their money's gone? How much money did you take, sir?" Cole asked, before Drinkwater's wife told her husband to walk away.
This summer, the Supreme Court of New Jersey moved Drinkwater to "disability inactive status," opening the door to possible client refunds.
But some say they've either come close to or lost their homes because of bankruptcy delays.
We'll continue to track this case and bring you the latest.