TRI-CITIES, Wash. (AP) — A Kennewick attorney has been charged with stealing nearly $263,000 in clients' money instead of applying the payments toward their owed back taxes.

The Tri-City Herald reports 43-year-old Christopher Neal has been suspended from practicing law in Washington. He's scheduled to appear in court Thursday on a theft charge.

Court documents say a couple hired Neal as a retainer in 2014 to help with past taxes they owed to the Internal Revenue Service.

The couple gave Neal $65,000 to cover their tax years 2007-09, $28,000 to cover their 2015 taxes followed by $170,000.

IRS officials confirmed the couple still owes taxes for seven years and payments were never made.

Documents show the state bar association noted Neal was suffering from health and personal problems that impacted his ability to deal with ethical issues.

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