The son of a prominent judge in Allegheny County sued his wife in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, saying their marriage was the product of an elaborate scheme to get at his relatives' wealth.
James Russell McGregor Jr., whose late father served on the bench from 1974 through 2004, filed the complaint against Jacqueline McGregor, who sued for divorce eight days earlier in Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas.
Mr. McGregor, of Ligonier, is an attorney who wrote and filed his own complaint. He said in an interview that his "plan before she filed [for divorce] was to be married living separately for the rest of my life."
The divorce filing, though, and a move to sequester the marital assets, prompted his counterattack in federal court.
"I had to file for a divorce," Mrs. McGregor responded. "I don't want a divorce. I want my husband to get well."
She said she had their property transferred to a trust, which is now also a defendant in the lawsuit, because his behavior suggested that the assets could be squandered. She denied his contention that she was after any family wealth.
Ms. McGregor's divorce filing includes standard language, indicating that the marriage of five years is "irretrievably broken," and seeking distribution of property, alimony and protection of marital assets. It does not detail the reasons for the marriage's breakdown.
Mr. McGregor wrote in his lawsuit that prior to their marriage, his wife was married to Ian Squire, a British citizen with whom she lived in Florida. According to the complaint, the two Squires agreed to a divorce that they pretended was contested, while she moved to Edgewood to take care of her mother.
The plan, according to the complaint: "Jacqui would court Plaintiff and fraudulently offer sexual favors, money, emotional support, vehicles and other matters and things to woo Plaintiff in to accepting a marriage proposal."
Mr. McGregor married his wife after she gave him a Range Rover, which gave him "a false sense of security," the complaint said. Though she was a Presbyterian, she agreed to marry Catholic, it said.
As Mr. McGregor's relatives passed on, according to the complaint, the wife would gain access to, and information about, their wealth.
Those relatives, according to the complaint, include the judge, former state Sen. and Penguins official Jack McGregor, retired attorney Sharinne Anne Strickland, successful farmer Chester DeJuan Strickland and Mellon family members. The connection to the Mellons, though, comes only through a relative's past marriage.
The complaint said "Jacqui would force a legal separation from Plaintiff, file for divorce and, as another fraud upon the Court, make a legal play for Plaintiff's assets, and those of his family." She would then flee with Mr. Squires to "the British empire," the complaint said, though that has not happened.
The civil court accused Ms. McGregor of fraud, breach of contract, conversion and federal banking violations.
Rich Lord: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord. First Published December 27, 2012 12:00 AM