Archive for the ‘Attorney’ Category

Former TN Attorney John E. Clemmons Accused of Stealing from Conservatorship

November 13, 2013

John E. Clemmons is now facing criminal charges in Davidson County for the first time. You may remember he pleaded guilty in Rutherford County for doing the same sort of thing he is alleged to do here – stealing from the infirmed who were powerless to protect themselves.

Now, Clemmons is jailed in Nashville on half-million dollars bond. He’s accused of causing millions of dollars of heartache to families like those of Nannie Malone.

Malone was 82 when she died in a nursing home. Clemmons was supposed to be caring for her and paying her bills. He had been her conservator for six years.

“I would ask for money to buy diapers or to get her hair cut. He said, ‘She had no money,'” said Malone’s daughter, Teresa Lyles. “He was very arrogant, he was very arrogant.” Lyles says her younger sister hounded Clemmons, demanding an audit and an accounting of their mother’s money.

“So he filed a petition in court to keep her from seeing our mother. She couldn’t handle that. She could not handle not seeing our mother. And she took her own life that night,” Lyles said. Eventually, the bank statements would show Clemmons wrote himself more than 50 checks from Nannie Malone’s account for a grand total of $367,000. “One of those checks would have paid for the medicine that my mother needed – the cancer drug that he stopped paying for,” Lyles said.

Lyles told Channel 4 News in July she wanted Clemmons prosecuted, and that’s the process now in place.

Full Article, Video and Source:
Former Attorney Accused of Stealing From Conservatorship

TN: Family Says Conservatorship Bilked $300K From Mother’s Estate; The Conservator: Attorney John E. Clemmons

July 18, 2013

John E. Clemmons’ law license was suspended a few months ago after he was accused of writing himself more than $50,000 in unauthorized fees from the bank account of a disabled client.
Now, another family says they’re out more than $300,000.

Malone’s children not only lost their mother, but they also lost everything that she had collected – all the precious memories. Clemmons sold everything at auction.

“They sold her clothes, family photos in that auction,” Lyle said. “It was one of the saddest days I’ve ever been through.”

“And now, seeing the money that has been taken from her, it’s like living her death all over again,” Boone said.

Family Says Conservatorship Bilked $300K From Mother’s Estate

See Also:
Nashville Attorney John E. Clemmons Charged With Theft in Conservatorship Case

‘When the King Goes Mad: King George III and the Struggle for Sanity, Power, and the Purse"

May 18, 2013

El Paso attorney Terry W. Hammond recently presented a keynote presentation, “When the King Goes Mad: King George III and the Struggle for Sanity, Power, and the Purse,” to the Texas Guardianship Association annual conference in San Antonio.

The session focused on challenges faced by court-appointed guardians when a person who has been in charge can no longer make prudent decisions. Hammond specializes in guardianship, probate, estate planning and elder law, and is the former executive director of the National Guardianship Association.

Terry W. Hammond Presented “When the King Goes Mad: King George III and the Struggle for Sanity, Power, and the Purse”

Missouri Attorney Once Convicted of Murder Back in Practice

May 10, 2013

A Kansas City attorney whose conviction in the beating death of his law partner was overturned in 2006 can resume his practice, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled.

The court ordered the law license of Richard Buchli II to be reinstated, with certain conditions.
Buchli was convicted in 2002 of murder in the death of his law partner, Richard Armitage.

Prosecutors alleged that Buchli’s financial problems were the motivation behind the killing.

A judge overturned Buchli’s conviction in 2006, finding that evidence had been withheld from the defense during his trial. Prosecutors dismissed the case last year, after a judge in 2010 threw out all the state’s evidence.

Attorney Once Convicted of Murder Back in Practice

Professional Discipline of Federal Prosecutors Reaches a New Low

April 16, 2013

An administrative judge has vacated suspensions of two federal prosecutors who were disciplined by the Justice Department for their flagrant misconduct in prosecuting and convicting the late Senator Ted Stevens. The two prosecutors – James Goeke and Joseph Bottini – were exoriated by the trial judge, Federal District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, for their willful and repeated acts of misconduct. (A third prosecutor, Nicholas Marsh, committed suicide after the case unraveled).

Attorney General Eric Holder believed that the misconduct was so severe that he asked that the conviction be vacated and the charges dismissed. Henry Schuelke, a private lawyer appointed by the trial judge to see if a contempt charge against the prosecutors was warranted, conducted a two-year investigation, reviewed over 128,000 documents, and issued a scathing 514-page report in which he concluded that the prosecution of Senator Stevens was “permeated by the systematic concealment of significant exculpatory evidence which would have corroborated Stevens and seriously damaged the credibility of the government’s key witness.” The Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) conducted its own investigation and concluded that the prosecutors had engaged in reckless misconduct and ordered them suspended for 15 and 40 days respectively.

The administrative judge has now vacated those suspensions. It is not possible to reconcile the result of the administrative judge’s ruling with the conclusions of Judge Sullivan, Attorney General Holder, the Schuelke Report, and the OPR. Indeed, the Schuelke Report is probably the most extensive post mortem of a criminal trial ever in the way it analyzes the prosecutors’ conduct and mindset based on their private emails, notes, memos, conversations, court filings and courtroom arguments, as well as their depositions, and which reveals quite powerfully their sordid and clandestine actions to win a criminal conviction at all costs. The Report methodically and exhaustively dissects the way the prosecutors manipulated flimsy, ambiguous, and unfavorable evidence, systematically concealed exculpatory evidence from the defense and jury, and thwarted defense attempts to locate favorable evidence. If anything, the Justice Department’s imposition of the rather modest suspensions on the prosecutors was grossly inadequate and disappointing. And now even those meager suspensions have been removed. Why?

The convoluted opinion of the administrative judge provides a revealing picture of why federal discipline of prosecutors for their misconduct is so dysfunctional. The judge concluded that the disciplinary proceedings by the Professional Misconduct Review Unit (PMRU), the body responsible for disciplining prosecutors after the OPR finds misconduct, contained a “harmful procedural error” which prejudiced the prosecutors and required the suspensions to be vacated. Trying to describe this so-called “prejudicial error” requires a serious and steady grip on reality, because the judge’s reasoning is unprincipled.

According to the PMRU policy, a Justice Department attorney assigned to the unit makes an initial decision on the appropriate punishment, either a reprimand, suspension, or removal. This attorney – hardly an independent decision-maker but rather a colleague of the prosecutors being reviewed – “became convinced that the prosecutors had not committed professional misconduct” and concluded that he did not have the authority to propose any discipline. Given the OPR’s finding that the Stevens’ prosecutors had engaged in reckless misconduct, and given the fact that the attorney assigned to propose discipline did not believe that any discipline was warranted, the Justice Department, pursuant to PMRU policy, appointed the chief of the PMRU to review the matter and impose discipline if he believed discipline was warranted, which he did – the 15 and 40 day suspensions.

But the administrative judge, in contravention of unambiguous language spelling out the policy of the PMRU which authorizes the chief of the unit to “issue or propose disciplinary action,” ruled that the chief of PMRU has no authority to impose discipline after his underling has decided that no discipline is warranted when, in the opinion of the underling, the Stevens’ prosecutors had done nothing wrong to warrant discipline. By ignoring the clear-cut policy that authorizes the chief of the unit to overrule his subordinate and impose discipline if he believes discipline is warranted, as well as ignoring plain common sense, the administrative judge, using Alice in Wonderland reasoning, ruled that since the initial attorney “had not made a final decision about the level of discipline” (and of course he made no final decision since he did not believe that any discipline was warranted in the first place), the chief of the unit was disabled to take any action on his own, even if he believed that misconduct had been committed (as the OPR had concluded), and discipline was warranted. In other words, the underling, not a particularly independent and unbiased decision-maker, gets the last word on official policy.
Hopefully, the Justice Department will appeal this preposterous decision, both to vindicate the soundness of its own disciplinary policy and procedures, however impotent they are, and to counteract the absurd claim of the disciplined prosecutors that they have been “vindicated” by the administrative judge’s ruling.

Professional Discipline of Federal Prosecutors Reaches a New Low

Disbarred Attorney Will Serve One Year in Prison for Stealing Nearly $900,000

March 22, 2013

A disbarred Bedford attorney who stole nearly $900,000 from several people, including an 85-year-old client, will pay restitution to her victims, serve one year in a house of correction, and an additional year-and-a-half under house arrest, prosecutors said today.

Maureen F. Pomeroy, 46, was sentenced in Middlesex Superior Court Monday, after she pleaded guilty March 4 to two counts of larceny from a person over 60, one count of larceny, and one count of embezzlement by fiduciary, Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement. Pomeroy was accused of stealing from two clients and one of their sons.

“This defendant took advantage of clients who entrusted her with access to their funds and believed that she would assist them with their best interests in mind. … This defendant is being held accountable for these injustices and is no longer able to practice law,” Coakley said.

Pomeroy will be required to pay $277,292 in restitution to her victims, the statement said.

Coakley’s office said that during the summer of 2008, Pomeroy stole more than $810,000 from an 85-year-old man who had hired her to draft his will, estate planning documents, and assist him with several bank accounts.

Pomeroy embezzled some of that money for personal gain and used the rest to repay two other people whom she had previously misappropriated money from, the statement said.

Full Article & Source:
Disbarred attorney will serve one year in prison for stealing nearly $900,000

Escondido Attorney Agrees to be Disbarred

February 7, 2013

An atttorney in Escondido recently admitted to stealing $275,000 from an elderly client’s inheritance and has agreed to be disbarred.

Sydney Claire Kirkland drained all but $10,000 from a trust account that an 80-year-old client set up. That client put the money in a client trust account with Kirkland, who had previously done legal work for him. In June 2011, the county’s adult protective services got a complaint from a bank manager and intervened. When APS questioned Kirkland, she lied to the agency. In addition to being disbarred, Sydney Claire Kirkland faces criminal charges of grand theft and stealing from an elderly adult. Kirkland became ineligible to practice law on January 19.

Full Article & Source:
Escondido Attorney Agrees to be Disbarred

Fake Attorney Indicted for Repeatedly Practiciing Law Without a License

February 6, 2013

Mannhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of TERENCE KINDLON, JR., 42, for practicing law without a license and filing false documents while unlawfully representing a criminal defendant. KINDLON was charged in New York State Supreme Court with three counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree and two counts of Unauthorized Practice of Law.

“Simply put, it is a crime to practice law without a license,” said District Attorney Vance. “The rules governing lawyers exist to protect those in need of competent representation before our courts. This defendant was an imposter who abused the trust of his purported clients for his own financial gain.”

Full Article and Source:
Press Release:  Fake Attorney Indicted for Repeatedly Practicing Law Without a License

T.S. Radio Tonight!

October 15, 2012
IL Attorney Ken Ditkowsky is on T.S. Radio now!

Sometimes a Conservator can be a Good Thing!

July 11, 2010

The thought of having a conservator appointed for a parent or relative – even a friend or neighbor – is something we all seem to loath. It has all sorts of negative connotations, including the fact that a conserved individual will be paraded through the probate courts with psychiatric and medical evaluations open for all to see. But, most of all, it’s the loss of dignity that results when the state declares an individual incapable – and takes away his or her right to vote, or marry, or divorce, or write a check, or pay a bill, or make any other meaningful decisions. It’s a position that no one wants to come to in this life.

But, despite all the negative aspects of being conserved, there are times when the appointment of a conservator is actually a good thing. Consider the case of Jane Wiederhold, a Barkhamstead, Connecticut, widow who was left an estate worth roughly $12 million by her husband, John Wiederhold. The Wiederholds had no children and the closest relatives lived out of state. At the time of her husband’s death in January of 1998, Jane Wiederhold showed signs of dementia and the inability to manage her finances. A friend of the family reportedly stated to the police that she was unable to write a check to pay for her husband’s funeral and she couldn’t remember how to spell her name.

Prior to his death, John Wiederhold had an attorney, Peter K. Sivaslian, from Torrington, Connecticut. Immediately after John Wiederhold’s death, Attorney Sivaslian started settling John Wiederhold’s estate. He also began to assist Jane Wiederhold with her personal finances. Within three months after her husband’s death, it is alleged that Attorney Sivaslian started purchasing bearer bonds and stock from the money in the Wiederholds’ accounts, the bulk of which were later traced into accounts held by Sivaslian and his wife, Lillian Sivaslian, according to a warrant served on Attorney Sivaslian by Connecticut state police. The warrant charged Attorney Sivalslian with two counts of first-degree larceny and two counts of second-degree larceny. It is alleged that Attorney Sivaslian stole as much as $4.8 million from Jane Wiederhold over several years, although the actual loss is somewhat less because some of the stocks and bonds have been recovered. He also charged a fee of $2,000 a month to handle Jane Wiederhold’s financial affairs, and he paid himself $200,000 to settle John Wiederhold’s estate.

The situtation didn’t come to light until three years after her husband’s death, when Jane Wiederhold told her nephew that Attorney Sivaslian had not provided any accountings of her finances and she suspected that half her money was gone. The nephew said he would look into it.

Despite the concern of friends and the funeral home director, no one seemed to do anything to protect Mrs. Wiederhold or her money until the nephew got involved. “No one suspected an attorney would commit any wrongdoing, her relatives, friends and home assistants reported to police,” according to an article published by the Register Citizan. Apparently, a medical examiner had recommended in 2001 that Mrs. Wiederhold be placed in conservatorship, but Attorney Sivaslian delayed filing the application until 2002 – more than five years after her husband’s death.

This is a case where everyone in contact with Mrs. Wiederhold may have wondered what was going on, but no one felt they had the right to inquire – at least not until the nephew got involved.

That wouldn’t have been the case if a conservatorship application had been filed with the probate court as soon as Mrs. Wiederhold lost her husband. That’s when Mrs. Wiederhold was most vulnerable and in need of supervision with adequate checks and balances in place to insure that her best interests were taken care of. A conservatorship proceeding would have given her that support system. It would have appointed someone to take care of her personal and financial needs. It would have required that an initial inventory of her assets be prepared and filed with the court. It would have also required that an accounting of her finances be filed every three years – more often if requested by the probate court judge.

While we all loath the thought of a loved one being conserved, it’s important to recognize that the probate court system in every state is designed to protect vulnerable individuals who can no longer care for themselves. Yes, there are alternatives that are available if the necessary steps are taken at the appropriate times. But, once the signs of dementia or other debilitating conditions become apparent, then the best option is to seek the protection of the probate courts. The Jane Wiederhold story is a tragic example of what could happen if you don’t.

Full Article and Source:
Sometimes a Conservator can be a Good Thing!