Archive for the ‘attorney accused’ Category

Former estate-planning lawyer faces federal charges in claimed $3M client theft case

November 15, 2013

A former Pennsylvania estate-planning lawyer is facing a federal wire fraud and money-laundering case, accused of bilking eight clients of over $3 million between 2007 and 2013.

Prosecutors say Wendy Weikal-Beauchat, 46, used fake certificates of deposit and IRS 1099 interest-reporting forms to cover up the claimed thefts, the Gettysburg Evening Sun reports.

Weikal-Beauchat was disbarred by consent earlier this year.

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Former estate-planning lawyer faces federal charges in claimed $3M client theft case

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Prominent Muskegon attorney faces discipline over thousands kept from former firm

October 1, 2013

Shawn P. Davis

MUSKEGON, MI – Shawn P. Davis, a prominent Muskegon criminal-defense and divorce attorney, faces possible disbarment for misappropriating thousands of dollars from the law firm for which he used to work.

The conduct, which Davis has admitted, lasted at least from 2007 until his partners confronted him and terminated him from Nolan & Nolan & Shafer PLC in August 2011. Since then, Davis has continued to practice law in Muskegon in a solo practice.

Davis admitted intentionally keeping cash and checks that many of his clients paid him, money he was supposed to turn over to the firm.

After his partners confronted him, he agreed to leave the firm and eventually admitted to taking a total of at least $14,060 on at least 22 separate occasions that he or his partners documented.

In September 2011, Davis paid the firm $50,000 as part of an agreement that severed his connection with his former partners and settled all claims between them, without admitting that he took more than $14,060. He had earlier repaid $6,150 of the misappropriated money.

According to documents obtained by the Muskegon Chronicle from the Attorney Grievance Commission, Davis attributed his behavior to financial pressures. In his defense he asserted his conduct was caused by a “temporary mental disability” – a “very high level of stress and depression he was undergoing as the result of facing serious financial difficulties.”

He was never prosecuted. But his license to practice law is in jeopardy.

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Prominent Muskegon attorney faces discipline over thousands kept from former firm

Anderson’s civil trial postponed

September 29, 2013

Former Williamson County District Court Judge Ken Anderson’s resignation is reportedly part of a mediation process that could, upon completion, allow him to keep his judicial pension – but could also require him to surrender his law license and possibly spend time in county jail.

A scheduled Sept. 30 civil trial, pitting Anderson and his attorneys against the State Bar of Texas’ Commission for Lawyer Discipline, has been put on hold because of those negotiations.

Although the investigation has been ongoing for almost two years, concerning Anderson’s role in Michael Morton’s 1987 murder conviction, events sped up rapidly this week.

• In a letter with Monday’s date on it, Anderson submitted a resignation letter to Gov. Rick Perry.
• On Tuesday, Perry accepted Anderson’s resignation as judge of the 277th District Court.

• On Wednesday, Kelly Moore – the judge specially appointed to hear the civil trial – notified local officials of the postponement. The civil trial had been set to start Sept. 30 in the county’s 26th District Court.

Now, Moore is calling for both sides to meet again in court Nov. 8. That purpose of that hearing is for Moore to receive an update on the status of the mediation.

Anderson served as Williamson County’s district attorney in 1987, prosecuting Morton on a murder charge stemming from the 1986 murder of Morton’s wife, Christine. Morton was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, but was freed in 2011 on the basis of DNA evidence.

Anderson’s lawyers – and representatives from the State Bar of Texas – are neither confirming nor denying what are supposedly the mediation’s details. They will also not discuss how long ago the two sides entered negotiations.

“I cannot comment,” one of Anderson’s lawyers – Mark Dietz of Round Rock – said in a Thursday email.

A State Bar spokesperson did, however, confirm negotiations are taking place.

“The Commission [for Lawyer Discipline] continues to work toward a final resolution in this matter that will protect the interests of the public and the Bar is confident that such a resolution will be reached,” Claire Mock responded in an email. “As matters pending before the Commission for Lawyer Discipline are confidential and in light of the obligations regarding avoiding unnecessary trial publicity in our own rules of disciplinary conduct, the Commission for Lawyer Discipline will have no further public comment on this matter until it is resolved.”

Following a five-day court of inquiry held in February, in April visiting Judge Louis Sturns ruled there is probable cause to believe Anderson withheld evidence from Morton and his lawyers during that 1987 murder trial.

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Anderson’s civil trial postponed

Judge Rules That ‘Unscrupulous’ Lawyer Must Pay For Ripping Off Friends

July 10, 2013

Attorney Lawrence Mulligan and his wife were like family to Bruce and Pamela Jalbert of Southbury.

Over a 10-year period, the couples traveled together, dined together and often socialized at each other’s homes. So it was no surprise that Larry Mulligan would handle the Jalberts’ legal matters.

But while the Jalberts thought Mulligan was working diligently to represent them in a property dispute, he was actually ripping them off for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees. To make matters worse, it has since been discovered that he wasn’t even doing any work on the case.  

The Jalberts sued Mulligan and a Waterbury Superior Court judge recently ruled that the lawyer must pay the Jalberts $746,842. That money includes treble damages and interest on the $219,750 the Jalberts paid Mulligan for legal work pertaining to a property that the Jalberts purchased in 2004 for $295,000.  

In issuing his written ruling, Judge Robert B. Shapiro used words like “immoral,” “unethical,” “oppressive” and “unscrupulous” to describe Mulligan’s actions.

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Judge Rules That ‘Unscrupulous’ Lawyer Must Pay For Ripping Off Friends

Ex-Sidley lawyer accused of stealing almost $120,000 from firm

June 30, 2013

A former Sidley Austin LLP partner and global coordinator of its real estate practice was accused of stealing nearly $120,000 from the Chicago-based law firm by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission.

The complaint against Lee Smolen, 53, who left Sidley last fall and joined DLA Piper US LLP’s Chicago office in February, requests that the matter be assigned to a panel for further investigation and possible discipline, according to Am Law Daily.

Sidley and a lawyer for Mr. Smolen declined to comment, the report said. Mr. Smolen was accused of submitting for reimbursement more than 800 false receipts totaling $69,000 for taxi rides he had not taken, plus thousands more in entertainment expenses “that had not been incurred for legitimate firm purposes.”

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Ex-Sidley lawyer accused of stealing almost $120,000 from firm