"I just find it disturbing," lawyer Robert Goldman said after Thursday's indictment. "In some circles of law enforcement, he's got a target on his head."
According to the indictment, Karoly and his brother, Peter, disbanded their law practice in an acrimonious 1986 split. A year earlier, Peter Karoly and his wife, Allentown dentist Lauren Angstadt, had signed wills leaving their estate to various siblings - except John, authorities said.
On Feb. 2, 2007, the couple died along with a pilot when their small plane crashed in bad weather trying to land at an airport in New Bedford, Mass. They had no children.
Karoly, along with his son, John "J.P." Karoly III, 28, of Orefield, and Dr. John J. Shane, 72, a family friend from Allentown, later conspired to create phony wills that included John Karoly, J.P. Karoly, and several other nieces and nephews as heirs, the indictment charged. Karoly told relatives that he found the document among some sealed papers his brother had given him.
A related civil suit over the disputed wills is already pending in civil court in Northampton County, Goldman said.
"Two sisters of John Karoly are on one side; on the other side are two Karoly brothers (John and Joe), along with nephews and nieces of the deceased," Goldman said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Weber, responding to the selective-prosecution charge, said he would not comment until he could present evidence in court. The defendants are charged with fraud and conspiracy.
"This is obviously a case that will be going to trial," said Tom Bergstrom, attorney for J.P. Karoly.
Messages left for Shane's lawyer, George A. Heitczman, were not immediately returned.