An attorney fled to Africa with up to $25 million of his clients' money, possibly the largest theft by a lawyer in this country, and left behind his wife and 11 children, a report published Tuesday said.

Steven J. Romer, 55, of Manhattan, allegedly stole the money from 40 clients and fled to Sierra Leone in West Africa, The New York Times reported.Earlier this month, Romer sent a letter postmarked in Los Angeles to various clients in which he said he had given the money to "feed some hungry and poverty-stricken people."

"Your money is no longer available, I am sorry to say," he wrote.