Archive for the ‘Missouri’ Category

KC attorney wants equal justice for judges discipline process

October 25, 2013


Frustrated by the secretive way the state of Missouri deals with complaints against judges, Kansas City attorney Michelle Puckett is calling for transparency and revealing the contents of two complaints filed against 43rd judicial circuit court judge Brent Elliot.

When most citizens stand before a judge, the proceedings happen in open court. Judges are treated differently; with closed-door hearings in front of a six-member Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline. The only time this panel can make details of these cases public as after misconduct is found or a judge under investigation gives the commission permission to talk. It is a process Puckett says is long overdue for change.

“I don’t think any type of secrecy in something this important, confidence in our judicial system, should ever be tolerated,” Puckett said. “It should be open. It should be public. And I, as a complainant, should have the right to review. It’s an important issue.”

Puckett’s strong feelings stem from her experiences with two separate complaints filed against Elliot.
The first followed a strange exchange made during an otherwise ordinary divorce court proceeding in January 2012. According to the transcript, opposing council Stephen Griffin asked Elliot to allow a last-minute witness.

Puckett objected saying, “this young lady was not listed as a witness.”

Griffin responded, “I wanted to see what she looked like to see if this was somebody that the guy would want to spend all his time with.”

“Good call,” Elliot said.

The judge overruled Puckett’s objection and allowed the witness to testify.

Offended by that comment, Puckett’s client decided to file a complaint against Elliot for sexist behavior. Puckett says she knew nothing about the complaint.

Full Article and Source:
KC attorney wants equal justice for judges discipline process

Former CFO, lawyer plead in St. Louis pre-arranged funeral fraud case

July 16, 2013

ST. LOUIS • Two more defendants involved in what prosecutors have called a “Ponzi-like” pre-arranged funeral scam that could cost $600 million pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges.
The former chief financial officer of National Prearranged Services, Randall K. Sutton, 67, of Chesterfield, pleaded guilty to charges of bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and insurance fraud.

A few hours later, the company’s former lawyer, Howard A. Wittner, 76, of Chesterfield, pleaded guilty to two counts of making false statements intended to deceive insurance regulators, and to willfully permitting a felon to engage in the insurance business.

Wittner admitted lying to state regulators and concealing the source of money used to buy a medical malpractice insurer. The third count refers to former owner, James “Doug” Cassity, a convicted felon.
Under the plea deal with prosecutors, Sutton faces up to seven years in prison, and Wittner faces up to five years when sentenced Nov. 7.

The pleas leave one remaining defendant, former investment adviser David R.

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Former CFO, lawyer plead in St. Louis pre-arranged funeral fraud case

Preliminary hearing set in financial crime case

July 11, 2013

FORSYTH — A preliminary trial has been set for a man facing charges for financial crimes and theft.

Kent Tangeman, 55, of Branson, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing for two counts of financial exploitation of an elderly person, class A felonies, and one count of stealing property more than $25,000, a class B felony, according to Missouri court records.

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Preliminary hearing set in financial crime case

Former Jasper County Official Sentenced for Document Fraud

June 24, 2013

A former public administrator of Jasper County, Missouri was sentenced in federal court today for document fraud, which was part of a scheme in which she illegally obtained federal benefits for her public wards.

Springfield, MO – infoZine – Rita Frances Hunter, 60, of Joplin, Missouri, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple to 12 months and a day in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Hunter to pay $120,000 in restitution to the Department of Health and Human Services. Hunter must report on August 1, 2013, to begin serving her prison sentence.

“This elected official betrayed the public trust and defrauded the government,” Dickinson said. “The citizens of Jasper County deserve to have honest public servants who fulfill their civic obligations lawfully, and in this case, they deserved better.”

Hunter, who pleaded guilty to document fraud on November 6, 2012, was the elected public administrator for Jasper County from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2008.

Full Article and Source:
Former Jasper County Official Sentenced for Document Fraud

See Also:
Civil Suits Against Rita Hunter Pending

A Judge a Little More Than a Week, and Then OD’d

May 25, 2013

A former longtime prosecutor who died at the cabin of a fellow southwestern Illinois judge now under federal investigation succumbed to a cocaine overdose, a coroner announced Friday.

Pike County Coroner Paul Petty, who also serves as sheriff, said in a statement that toxicology tests showed Joe Christ, 49, died of cocaine intoxication in St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael Cook’s cabin about 65 miles northwest of St. Louis in March.

Petty said alcohol also was found in Christ’s system, and that Cook was the only person with Christ at the time. Cocaine and paraphernalia was seized from the cabin, Petty said.

Christ died a little more than a week after being sworn in as a judge in St. Clair County. Cook, a judge in the same county, was booted from his docket of hundreds of cases Thursday because of the unfolding federal investigation confirmed by that county’s state’s attorney and chief judge.

Full Article and Source:
Illinois Judge Died of Cocaine Overdose

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

Man Arrested for Financial Exploitation and Forgery

April 13, 2013

A Cape Girardeau man, already involved in a civil case for alleged fraudulent and dishonest practices going to trial in July, has been arrested. Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter says that 52-year-old Keith Monia has been charged with two counts of financial exploitation of the elderly, and two counts of forgery.

He is alleged to have sold two annuity plans to an elderly Scott County couple between 2010 and 2012, accepted applications and payments totaling 220-thousand dollars, and never having sent the applications to the company. Investigators found the money was deposited in Monia’s personal account and an online trading account. His insurance license renewal was denied in 2011 by the Department of Insurance after allegations of fraud. Monia is being held on $75,000 bond.

His civil trial is set for July 30th, as Monia is being sued by a Jackson man who said he took $80,000 that was supposed to be placed in an annuity.

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Cape Man Arrested for Financial Exploitation and Forgery

Missouri Supreme Court Makes Lawyer Discipline Hearings Public

April 12, 2013

The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that an attorney discipline hearing cannot be closed to the public without good reason.

The rare Friday decision says the Disciplinary Hearing Panel can only close a pending hearing involving a St. Louis attorney if the panel can show “good cause.” The discipline panel previously issued a blanket order closing the proceedings, which was challenged by Missouri Lawyers Media.

The Supreme Court said its ruling was the first interpreting a new court rule setting guidelines for when disciplinary hearings can be confidential.

St. Louis attorney Ben Lipman represented Missouri Lawyers Media. He says the decision will help ensure future proceedings are not closed inappropriately.

Missouri Court Makes Lawyer Discipline Hearing Public

Missouri Supreme Court Suspends Associate Circuit Judge Barbara Peebles for Six Months Without Pay

March 31, 2013

A St. Louis judge has been suspended without pay for six months, according to a ruling issued Friday by the Missouri Supreme Court.

The unpaid suspension of Associate Circuit Judge Barbara Peebles begins Monday. She has been suspended with pay since August, when the Missouri Commission on Retirement, Removal and Discipline voted 5-1 to recommend her removal. The sixth member favored a six-month suspension.

The one-page order, issued by Chief Justice Richard B. Teitelman, said that the court found that Peebles “engaged in misconduct” but does not go into specifics.

The state commission had cited a series of reasons, including her abdication of duties to a clerk while on vacation in China and her destruction of a court document that complained about the clerk’s conduct.

She also was cited for starting court late, talking to a newspaper reporter about a pending case and a lack of credibility regarding the investigation.

Courthouse rumors in St. Louis had long speculated that the court would decline to follow the commission’s recommendation to remove Peebles, and that the high court would time its announcement for a day when the legislature was out of session to minimize any repercussions there.

Friday was Good Friday.

Full Article and Source:
Mo. Supreme Court Suspends St. Louis Judge for Six Months Without Pay

See Also:
Judge Barbara Peebles Response

Judicial Commission’s Report on Judge Barbara Peebles

MO: Police: Man Exploited Elderly Man With Dementia

January 24, 2013

A St. Peters man is behind bars, accused of scamming an elderly woman out of thousands of dollars. Jeremy McClellan, 38, is charged with financial exploitation of the elderly or disabled.
Full Article and Source:
Police: Man Exploited Elderly Woman With Dementia