Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Bad Lawyer! No Soup for You!
God works wonders now and then;
Behold a lawyer, an honest man.
~ Benjamin Franklin
It has been a bad month for lawyers, according to daily reports coming out of law blogs and newsletters and the ABA journal. And this is just from the first three weeks of January. Somehow, Florida has escaped mention. But you can probably add a contribution of your own.
In Minnesota, criminal defense attorney Charles Alan Ramsay, 41, was jailed overnight while he was trying a case. His arrest on cocaine-possession charges by the Sheriff's office resulted from an on-the-spot investigation after a police investigator witnessed suspicious behavior on Ramsay's part as he exited a courthouse men's room during a hearing recess. Ramsay allegedly had been touching his nose with his hand in a manner that suggested drug use, according to police, and an evidence technician sent into a conference room that he had been using discovered a trace amount of cocaine on the table there. Police then called the County Attorney's office, which in turn called the sheriff's office, which has jurisdiction over the courthouse. After a drug-sniffing dog allegedly alerted to Ramsay's briefcase, a search warrant was executed and cocaine was found in his briefcase, authorities say.
In Illinois, Dave Compton, 60, got popped for smuggling pot to inmates in holding cells at the Cook County Jail. Compton purportedly met with an inmate's girlfriend inside a criminal courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue on Wednesday, where the attorney allegedly participated in "a transaction" with the girlfriend, Angela Bell, who was wearing a wire. Prosecutors say Compton delivered marijuana to inmates in the jail's holding cell multiple times after getting it from Bell.
In Washington, D.C., a grand jury has returned a superseding indictment accusing Arent Fox partner Joseph Price and two other men of conspiring to conceal the “true circumstances” of the fatal stabbing of a lawyer at Price's DuPont Circle home. The superseding indictment charges Price, his domestic partner Victor Zaborsky and their friend Dylan Ward with conspiracy, obstruction of justice and evidence tampering, Legal Times reports.
In Ohio, a former lawyer who admitted faking her kidnapping has been sentenced to four years in prison for theft. Karyn McConnell Hancock admitted taking more than $624,000 from 23 clients. She pleaded guilty to aggravated theft last November, then hiding out to cover up her culpability. She gave up her law license last January.
In Arizona, a bankruptcy lawyer who formerly worked as a prosecutor in South Dakota reportedly has been charged with manslaughter in a stabbing case.
Details are sketchy, but KPHO, a local CBS News affiliate, reports that a manslaughter indictment against Daniel Gukeisen, 37, who operates a bankruptcy firm in Tempe, was announced this month by the Maricopa County Attorney's office.
In Texas, a Dallas law firm will pay $840,000 in restitution as a result of a fake accident scam that authorities say was run without the owner’s knowledge. The firm Trey Allen has already paid $200,000 of the total and will pay the rest over the next five years, the Dallas Morning News reports. Authorities say the firm’s owner, John H. Allen III, wasn’t aware of the activities of his legal assistant, "Tommy" Tung Tran, who pleaded guilty in the insurance scam, the newspaper says.
Also in Texas, already facing an unprecedented criminal case concerning his alleged harassment of his former case manager, U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent was federally indicted a second time on new sex charges relating to his alleged mistreatment of another court worker. He is already facing other counts.
In Alabama, a federal judge has ordered the jailing of an Alabama sheriff for violating a court order requiring adequate meals for inmates. The sheriff, Greg Bartlett, testified he was able to personally pocket $212,000 in surplus meal money over the last three years under an unusual state system. The law pays sheriffs $1.75 per day for each prisoner they jail and allows them to keep any money that isn’t spent on meals, the AP story says. Well, maybe he is not a lawyer. Who would ever appoint a lawyer sheriff anyway?
In New Jersey, a disbarred lawyer has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $4 million from trust funds for gambling trips to Atlantic City. The state is recommending a 15-year sentence for Michael Rumore when he is sentenced on April 17, the New Jersey Law Journal reports. Rumore pleaded guilty to money laundering and theft last Friday.
Finally, in New York, an elderly 81 year old lawyer, who was disbarred in 2006 faces mandatory jail time for repeatedly representing clients in New York under another attorney's identity. Bertram Brown said he “just did not want to stop practicing law.”
What did Mario Puzo once write in ‘The Godfather:’: ‘A Lawyer with a briefcase can steal more than a thousand men with guns.’