A Batavia attorney has been disbarred after he failed to tell his clients his law license had been suspended for misleading clients with bizarre lies.
According to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, Manos Kavvadias was disbarred this month by the Illinois Supreme Court.
Kavvadias was suspended for one year in 2009, in part for failing to help a client and leading her to believe he was taking extraordinary steps to remedy a case he knew had already been dismissed.
According to the ARDC, Kavvadias represented a woman in 2003 on a drunken driving charge. The woman pleaded guilty to drunken driving — her second conviction — and her license was suspended. Two years later, she asked Kavvadias to represent her as she petitioned for a restricted driving permit.
Kavvadias did initially represent the woman at a Secretary of State hearing and even sued the Secretary of State’s office to compel them to grant a restricted license.
But after a judge ruled that Kavvadias had not completed basic paperwork, the attorney agreed to dismiss the case — without the woman’s consent.
Kavvadias continued to tell the woman and her husband that he was pursuing the case, the complaint says.
In April 2007, he lied to the couple, saying that Secretary of State Jesse White, an assistant attorney general and a Secretary of State employee had been arrested for failing to participate in her case.
Kavvadias then told them he had contacted Chicago Sun-Times columnist Carol Marin and she had agreed to conduct a May 2007 news conference about the Secretary of State’s lack of attention to the woman’s claim, also not true.
Both these claims were false, and Kavvadias lied so his client would think he was still pursuing her reinstatement request, the complaint says.
Kavvadias agreed to meet with the couple at a mall to prepare so they could drive together to the imaginary press conference. When they arrived, Kavvadias admitted the ruse.
Kavvadias was disbarred when he failed to notify his other clients that his law license had been suspended and continued to appear in court on their behalf.
Kavvadias has a Batavia mailing addresses but several online directories list a Wheaton business address. All phone numbers for his office were disconnected Friday.
Credit: Matt Hanley email@example.com / BeaconNews.SunTimes.com
Disbarment Sought for Attorney Who Claimed to Channel Client’s Dead Wife
The State Bar of Arizona is looking to throw the book at a Phoenix attorney who told a client that she was channeling his dead wife, then allegedly lied about it during an unrelated disciplinary proceeding.
An Arizona Supreme Court hearing officer in June recommended that attorney Charna Johnson’s law license be suspended for six months and a day followed by two years of probation. Both Johnson and the State Bar objected to the hearing officer’s recommendation. The Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Arizona earlier this month upped Johnson’s suspension to one year followed by two years of probation after oral arguments were made on Sept. 11.
The State Bar is still not satisfied with the punishment, however. It has filed a notice of its intention to ask the Supreme Court to review the case and disbar Johnson, said Bar counsel Stephen Little.
Johnson’s attorney, Nancy Greenlee, a solo practitioner, declined to comment on the case citing its ongoing nature. Johnson did not respond to calls for comment.
The strange case is a first for Arizona, said State Bar spokesman Rick DeBruhl.
“I don’t think anyone has had a case like this before,” he said.
The allegations that Johnson channeled her client’s dead wife surfaced in an unrelated disciplinary case involving Johnson’s handling of a different client’s will. Johnson was censured in January of 2009 and given a year of probation for her conduct related to the creation of the will, but she denied acting as a medium for the dead at the time, DeBruhl said.
However, a hearing officer’s report prepared in June disputes that claim. The report says that Johnson began representing the client involved with the most recent disciplinary action in 2000 in divorce proceedings after meeting him in a ballroom dancing class. The client’s wife committed suicide several months later, and Johnson handled the probate matters.
Within days of the death, Johnson began telling her client that “his deceased wife Jan had ‘come’ to her and that Jan’s ’spirit’ was ‘inside’ her and that she could communicate Jan’s thoughts,” according to the report. The client testified that Johnson pressured him to have a sexual relationship with her, although she told the investigator that the references to sex were coming from the deceased wife, not herself.
The State Bar has argued that Johnson should be disbarred not only because of her inappropriate conduct toward her client, in which she lied about channeling his deceased wife, but because she “continued those lies over an extended period in an effort to minimize her conduct,” according to the latest decision.
During her latest testimony before the disciplinary commission, Johnson said she misunderstood the channeling question posed during the prior proceedings and did not intentionally lie.
Little said the State Bar intends to file its appeal of the disciplinary commission’s recommended one-year suspension within a week.
Credit: Karen Sloan, The National Law Journal
By Steve Miletich
Seattle Times staff reporter
State Supreme Court justices Richard Sanders and James Johnson stunned some participants at a recent court meeting when they said African Americans are overrepresented in the prison population because they commit a disproportionate number of crimes.
Both justices disputed the view held by some that racial discrimination plays a significant role in the disparity.
Johnson also used the term “poverty pimp,” an apparent reference to people who purportedly exploit the poor in the legal system, say those who attended the meeting.
Sanders later confirmed his remarks about imprisoned African Americans, saying “certain minority groups” are “disproportionally represented in prison because they have a crime problem.”
“That’s right,” he told The Seattle Times this week. “I think that’s obvious.”
Johnson did not respond to several messages left Wednesday and Thursday with three staffers in Olympia. He also did not respond to messages left Thursday at his home and with Sanders. Johnson’s staff said he was with the court in Spokane to hear cases at the Gonzaga University law school.
African Americans represent about 4 percent of Washington’s population but nearly 20 percent of the state prison population. Similar disparities nationwide have been attributed by some researchers to sentencing practices, inadequate legal representation, drug-enforcement policies and criminal-enforcement procedures that unfairly affect African Americans.
Some who attended the meeting say they were offended by the justices’ remarks, saying the comments showed a lack of knowledge and sensitivity.
Kitsap County District Court Judge James Riehl, who attended the meeting, said he was “stunned” because, as a trial judge for 28 years, he was “acutely aware” of barriers to equal treatment in the legal system.
Sanders, who is seeking a fourth term in the Nov. 2 general election, and Johnson, who was elected to a second term in the August primary, offered their opinions during an Oct. 7 presentation at the Temple of Justice in Olympia.
Staff from the state Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC), as well as Riehl and a social-justice advocate from the Seattle University School of Law, presented a report on improving the effectiveness of boards and commissions set up by the Supreme Court to ensure fair treatment in the courts for minorities and other groups.
Shirley Bondon, an AOC manager who oversees programs to remove barriers in the legal system, said that during the discussion she told the justices that she believed there was racial “bias in the criminal-justice system, from the bottom up.”
Bondon, 50, who is African American, said Sanders told others to turn to a page in the report that listed barriers to the justice system, including age, race, disability and other factors.
Sanders asked for the name of anyone who was in prison because of one of the barriers, according to Bondon and others who attended the meeting.
Sanders also stated that he didn’t believe the barriers existed, except for poverty because it might restrict the ability to afford an attorney, Bondon said.
Ada Shen-Jaffe, the Seattle University participant, responded that she didn’t have names but could provide research, Bondon and Riehl said.
Shen-Jaffe, said to be traveling, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Bondon said she told the group that African Americans comprise a small percentage of Washington’s population but comprise a much larger percentage of the prison population.
Sanders replied that African Americans commit more crimes, Bondon and others at the meeting said.
Sanders, in an interview, said he replied with words to the effect that maybe prison statistics reflect crimes that were committed.
After Sanders’ remark, Johnson said he agreed, noting that African Americans commit them against their own communities, Bondon said.
Bondon said she told Johnson that was unacceptable and that she didn’t believe that to be true.
Johnson then remarked that he believed some people are taken advantage of, and in connection with that, used the term “poverty pimp,” Bondon said.
Bondon said she didn’t know what Johnson meant by that comment but later concluded he likely was referring to legal-service workers who provide services to the poor, particularly since Shen-Jaffe has a background in that field.
Shen-Jaffe objected to Johnson’s remarks and invited Johnson to later talk informally with her about them, Bondon and others at the meeting recalled.
Johnson explained during the meeting that he had heard the term “poverty pimp” from someone else, Bondon said.
The pejorative label has generally been used to describe individuals who represent the poor for their own gain.
Justice Debra Stephens said she heard Sanders and Johnson make the comments, including Johnson using the words “you all” or “you people” when he stated that African Americans commit crimes in their own communities.
Stephens said she was surprised by the “poverty pimp” remark.
“If that were directed at me, I would have felt accused,” Stephens said, adding that she doesn’t believe that was Johnson’s intent, but instead that he chose an unfortunate phrase.
Justice Susan Owens said she heard the comments but didn’t understand what Johnson meant by “poverty pimp,” though she added that she didn’t believe he was directing the term at anyone in particular.
Chief Justice Barbara Madsen said she recalled that Sanders disagreed with the premise that anyone was in prison because of race and asked for a name of someone there because of race.
She also recalled Johnson said something about African Americans committing crimes in their own communities, but that she only heard later that he used the term “poverty pimp.”
Madsen said she stopped the conversation because she didn’t think it was productive.
Some justices said they didn’t hear the comments, in part because of overlapping conversations taking place along a long table.
Riehl, the Kitsap County judge, said he was stunned that the term “poverty pimp” would be used in a meeting where the comment didn’t relate to the presentation, and that it was made in front of staff and the Seattle University representative.
Johnson made clear that he didn’t think the court’s boards and commissions should be funded and said the meeting was costing $25,000 in people’s time that could be used for better purposes, Riehl said.
“That obviously took me back a little,” Riehl said.
Johnson is widely considered to be the court’s most conservative justice.
Bondon, the AOC manager, in a written statement to The Seattle Times, said she was stunned by Sanders’ remarks.
“I know that people in all walks of life hold biases, but it was stunning to hear a Justice of the Supreme Court make these outrageous comments in my presence,” Bondon wrote.
Bondon said she took the “comments personally, as though he were saying that I and all African Americans had a predisposition for criminality and I was offended.”
Bondon said she remembered thinking that she didn’t need data or statistics to prove that she and other African Americans don’t have a predisposition for criminality.
“Just the idea that it was necessary to disprove the assertion was sickening,” Bondon said.
Johnson’s pimp comment inferred that “poor people have no right to legal representation. Where’s the justice in that?” Bondon wrote.
Sanders, in an interview, said he has a reputation for standing up for those accused of crimes but that he hasn’t seen evidence that African Americans are disproportionately imprisoned because of race.
He said his concern was for “individuals,” and that if someone is in prison for any reason other than committing the crime, “I want to hear about it.”
But statistics aren’t proof, he said.
Sanders, a self-described civil libertarian, said he had written court opinions making it clear that prosecutors can’t dismiss prospective jurors because of race.
Seattle Times news researcher David Turim contributed to this story.
A Kansas City lawyer has been disbarred for charging a soldier a fee of $3,500 an hour, shouting profanities at court clerks, brawling with court security officers and suggesting that a judge is pedophile.
Attorney Carlos D. Romious, also known as D. Carlos Romious, of Kansas City, Mo., was disbarred from the practice of law in Kansas, according to a Kansas Supreme Court order today.
The court also cited three other instances of his behavior in different courts, including other types of allegations.
At the U.S. Courthouse in Kansas City, Kansas, there was an incident at the entrance where Romious walked through a security scan check.
According to court documents, he removed items from his pockets, put them in the tray, walked through the magnetometer and the alarm sounded. He was told to remove his watch and walk through it again. He refused, became loud and used profane language, according to court security officers.
The officers told him to return through the security check or to leave the building, but instead he walked toward the elevators, and was told to stop.
“Deputy Marshal Franklin told the Respondent to leave the courthouse,” the court documents stated. “The Respondent refused to do so. The Respondent told Deputy Marshal Franklin that he would have to move him. Deputy Marshal Franklin put a hand on the Respondent and the Respondent shoved Deputy Marshal Franklin. Deputy Marshal Franklin took the Respondent to the floor. The struggle between Deputy Marshal Franklin and the Respondent continued, knocking over the magnetometer and going through a set of doors. Eventually, the Respondent was placed under arrest. Deputy Marshal Franklin received minor injuries in the incident.”
According to the court documents, Romious was indicted in a three-count complaint over this incident, including two misdemeanors and one felony charge of resisting and impeding the marshals in their official duties. The attorney entered into a plea agreement, pleading guilty to the first count of failing to comply with official signs and with the direction of a federal police officer.
To read the entire decision, visit http://www.kscourts.org/Cases-and-Opinions/opinions/SupCt/2010/20101008/104200.pdf
Credit: Wyandotte Daily News
By Carl Keith Greene / Staff Writer @ The Times-Tribune
Corbin lawyer Kyle David Kersey, 56, was pronounced dead at Baptist Regional Medical Center at 8:05 a.m. Friday.
The lawyer had been disbarred on Thursday. Kersey died from a single gunshot injury, said Whitley Coroner Andy Croley. According to Kentucky State Police Public Affairs Officer Trooper First Class Don Trosper, the wound was in the torso.
Croley said, “The cause and manner of the death are still under investigation.”
An autopsy is scheduled for today (Saturday).
Just before 7 a.m., the Laurel County dispatch center notified the KSP of a single-vehicle traffic incident on KY 770 near the bridge that crosses the Laurel River. Its front end was pointed toward the Keavy area.
When police arrived, they found Kersey in the black pickup truck along the side of the road.
Croley and KSP lead Detective Donald Wilson, Dave Lassiter, and Mark Allen continue the investigation along with the Laurel County Sheriff, London Police and the Laurel Major Crimes Task Force.
Kersey was disbarred, the result of a recommendation to the Kentucky supreme court by the Kentucky Bar Association.
The bar association asked that he be permanently removed from the practice of law in Kentucky.
Five bar discipline charges were listed in the order.
The first states that Brandon Mills had retained Kersey after an automobile accident.
Kersey had settled with Mills’ insurer to the policy limit of $25,000, and Mills’ no-fault insurer for the unpaid Personal Injury Protection (PIP) balance of $4,034.80.
Mills signed the settlement statement in April 2004 showing that Mills was to get $18,750, the remainder after attorney’s fees. Mills received no money from Kersey.
In March 2006, Apren H. Poore hired Kersey to represent him after a traffic accident.
Kersey got $25,000 from the liability insurance policy and $10,000 PIP funds.
Kersey reportedly told Poore that there would be liens against outstanding medical bills.
Before the final lien settlements were made, Kersey gave Poore $5,250.
However, Kersey claimed he had advanced $3,050 to Poore and $4,500 to Poore’s mother.
Kersey’s escrow bank records were subpoenaed and the records showed that in October 2007, the account was overdrawn by $107.40.
Kersey’s records indicated that he had deposited the liability and PIP funds into the account in May 2006.
Shawna Ellis was involved in the same accident as Poore.
Kersey got $25,000 in liability and $10,000 in PIP payments for Ellis.
He also warned Ellis that there would be medical liens.
He gave Ellis $4,250 from the insurance proceeds and was said to have deposited the remainder of the proceeds in the escrow account — the same one that was overdrawn by $107.40.
Wanda Godby hired Kersey to represent her on federal criminal charges.
She pledged her pickup truck worth $10,000 as collateral for her legal fee of $5,000.
In February 2009, he told Godby that she should transfer the ownership of the truck to Kersey for insurance purposes because it was being housed on his property.
Godby transferred the truck to Kersey who soon afterward filed a motion to withdraw as her lawyer in the criminal matter.
Kersey sold the truck but did not notify Godby.
In a March 2009 hearing in federal court, Godby learned the truck had been sold.
He had sold the truck, valued at $10,000 for $2,200.
Kersey admitted that his agreement with Godby would have allowed her to pay his legal fees and get the truck back.
He withdrew and a federal public defender was appointed.
Finally, the bar association began getting overdraft notices from Cumberland Valley National Bank, Kersey’s bank, on Dec. 30, 2008 regarding his escrow account.
In January, April and June, the bar requested copies of documents indicating he had corrected the overdrafts and asked for a written explanation of why the overdrafts occurred.
He failed to respond to the notices.
The bar got more overdraft notifications. Some 19 checks on Kersey’s accounts were returned between December 2008 and October 2009, totaling $10,67.66, for insufficient funds.
The court ordered that Kersey pay $1,824.82 to pay for the costs of the disciplinary proceedings, make restitution to all clients and within 10 days cancel any advertising he used and notify all clients in writing that he could no longer represent them.
Kersey’s law office caught fire at about 11 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 25, 2009.
The office was then at 704 South Main in Corbin, about 400 feet from the Corbin firehouse.
By midnight, the first floor had fallen into the law office’s basement.
A family of four was staying in the two-bedroom apartment on the second story of the law office.
The family was able to exit the home without injury.
Following the fire, Kersey moved his office to 101 West Seventh Street, at the intersection with South Main Street.
He had been the Whitley County attorney in the 1990s, representing the fiscal court and prosecuting district court cases before returning to private practice.
Credit: Carl Keith Greene / Staff Writer @ The Times-Tribune
A Wisconsin prosecutor already under fire for sexting a domestic abuse victim also shared shared confidential information about a case with another woman and invited her on a date to an autopsy, according to a letter released by the governor.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle said the allegations are troubling and constitute “unimaginable” conduct by Ken Kratz, a district attorney in Calumet County north of Milwaukee.
In the letter, the woman says Kratz shared confidential details about a case and invited her to a woman’s autopsy “provided I would be his girlfriend and would wear high heels and
At a news conference in Madison, Doyle said he was appalled by Kratz’s behavior and would move to have him removed from office. He said he first needs to get a “verified complaint” from a taxpayer in Calumet County. The abuse victim does not live in that county.
Kratz has acknowledged sending 30 text messages in three days last year to a woman while he was prosecuting her ex-boyfriend in an abuse case.
The woman, Stephanie Van Groll, has told investigators that Kratz asked whether she minded if he reduced the charge against her ex-boyfriend from a felony to a misdemeanor. She responded during the conversation last October that strangulation was a felony, according to records obtained by The Associated Press on Monday.
Minutes after she left his office, Kratz started sending her a series of text messages in which he tried to start an affair.
Kratz has apologized and went on medical leave Monday, but has refused to resign.
Wisconsin governors have the power to remove county officials like Kratz for cause. The Legislative Reference Bureau says it is not aware of any other cases where that has happened.
His attorney says he plans to contest his removal.
– Associated Press
–Chicago Breaking News
Beckett held on allegations of drunken driving
By HENRY BREAN and MIKE BLASKY
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Nye County District Attorney Bob Beckett was arrested late Tuesday night on suspicion of drunken driving after authorities in Pahrump received a report from a concerned citizen: Heidi Fleiss.
The former Hollywood madam said she called the Nye County sheriff’s office about a suspicious vehicle parked on the secluded dirt road near her house in Pahrump.
The car turned out to be a county vehicle with Beckett passed out in the driver’s seat, Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said.
Beckett was arrested after he failed both a field sobriety test and a preliminary breath test, DeMeo said.
A second breath test administered at the sheriff’s office showed Beckett with a blood-alcohol level of 0.12 percent, “well above” the legal limit of 0.08 percent, the sheriff said.
Under state law, people can be charged with drunken driving even if they are found sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked car because they are “still in control of the vehicle,” DeMeo said.
“This was an elected official driving a county vehicle who should have known better than that,” he said. “It doesn’t serve the citizens of Nye County well and it doesn’t serve his office well for this to occur.”
Beckett, 51, was held in a cell by himself for about 12 hours before being released on his own recognizance Wednesday morning.
Messages left on his cell phone and at his office were not returned.
This wasn’t the four-term district attorney’s first drunken driving arrest.
In 2008, he was charged with drunken driving in California after crashing two vehicles, one of them a county-owned SUV, on the same desert highway six hours apart.
Beckett eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and agreed to undergo counseling on the dangers of alcohol and driving.
His probation in California prohibits him from violating any law or driving a motor vehicle with any measurable blood-alcohol level.
It was not immediately clear what would happen to Beckett in the event he was found to have violated his probation.
He also was arrested May 5 by sheriff’s deputies in Pahrump and booked on embezzlement and other charges in connection with a bank account his office managed for more than a decade. A special prosecutor has been assigned to review that case, as well as allegations Beckett later brought against members of DeMeo’s staff.
The sheriff said the drunken driving case against Beckett also will be turned over to the special prosecutor.
“It couldn’t be (handled by) anyone from his office. He’s still the DA,” DeMeo explained.
Beckett lost his seat in the June 8 Republican primary, when he finished last out of five candidates. He will leave office at the end of the year.
In the wake of Tuesday’s arrest, Beckett’s driver’s license has been suspended and the county has stripped him of permission to drive its vehicles, DeMeo said.
The sheriff declined to identify the caller whose tip led to the arrest. All he would say is that “whoever made the call did the right thing.”
Fleiss has lived in Pahrump, 60 miles west of Las Vegas, since late 2005. She owns a laundromat called Dirty Laundry on the town’s main drag and shares her home with about 25 exotic birds.
She said she intentionally bought her home on a lonely dirt road because she wanted some privacy for her and her menagerie.
“There are three houses on my street,” she said. “That road is like a security system.”
Fleiss said she called the sheriff’s office only because the car was agitating her birds and she was worried the person inside might be a stalker.
“I told them it could be a car broken down, it could be teenagers having sex, it could be nothing, but a car shouldn’t be parked there,” she said.
When the deputy arrived, Fleiss got out her night-vision binoculars and tried to watch, but the flashing police lights made it hard to see what was going on. She said she didn’t find out it was Beckett until Wednesday morning.
“I feel bad for the guy, but drunk driving is like shooting a gun in a crowd of people,” she said.
Fleiss speaks from experience. In 2008, she was booked for driving under the influence of drugs and other charges after a traffic stop in Pahrump. She pleaded guilty last year and remains on probation.
At the time of her plea, Beckett said of Fleiss, “Time will tell if she’s serious about turning her life around.”
Fleiss said she has no hard feelings about being prosecuted by Beckett’s office, and she’s sorry it was her call that landed him in jail.
“You know me. I’m not like a school principal or a probation officer looking to get someone in trouble. I avoid those sorts of things,” she said.
“If I’d known it was him, I never would have called the police. I would have told him to lay down in the guest house and sleep it off.”
Read more: Las Vegas Review-Journal
State sues TV’s ‘tax lady’ for alleged swindles
Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
A Sacramento County attorney who bills herself as the “tax lady,” appearing in nationwide television ads offering to help people with tax problems, was sued Monday for $34 million by state Attorney General Jerry Brown for allegedly swindling thousands of people.
Instead of reducing clients’ tax bills, Roni Deutch put people deeper in debt by placing them “in an endless loop of requests” for duplicate documents that resulted in higher fees and penalties from the Internal Revenue Service, and by falsely billing them for services she never rendered, Brown said.
His lawsuit, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, claims that Deutch made misleading representations and engaged in unfair competition while victimizing thousands of people in California and elsewhere.
An attorney for Deutch did not respond to a request for comment.
Deutch operates a law firm in North Highlands (Sacramento County) that employs 160 people and generates about $25 million a year in revenue while spending $3 million annually on TV and radio ads, the suit said.
Brown said Deutch operates a high-pressure “boiler room” in which sales agents who cannot meet her law firm’s monthly goals are fired. “She screams at and berates sales agents who are not performing adequately,” the suit said.
Sales agents who meet or exceed quotas receive “lavish bonuses and incentives,” including all-expenses-paid trips to Hawaii and Las Vegas, Brown said in court papers.
“Deutch is engaged in a heartless scheme that swindled people with tax problems,” Brown said. “She promises to significantly reduce their IRS tax debts, but instead preys on their vulnerability, taking large up-front payments but providing little or no help in lowering their tax bills.”
Deutch has faced similar allegations before.
In 2006, she agreed to pay $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs that claimed she had misled consumers with TV commercials promising settlements of back-tax problems “for only $20″ or “without paying anything to the IRS.”
Deutch, a graduate of UC Berkeley and Western State University College of Law, has no public record of discipline in California, records show. She was admitted to the State Bar in 1991.
Read more: San Francisco Chronicle
Would You Wear This To Work?
By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel
A lawyer who committed more than 50 ethical violations in 13 cases in his short career had his license to practice revoked Friday.
Michael C. Trudgeon, (Marquette, ‘03), had been suspended from practice since 2008 for failing to report compliance with continuing legal education requirements and failing to cooperate with an Office of Lawyer Regulation investigation.
Trudgeon, 43, lives in Wauwatosa but had his practice in Beloit, according to records.
In 2009, he received a public reprimand, and the OLR filed the latest complaint. Of the 56 counts, Trudgeon admitted some and pleaded no contest to others, according to the Supreme Court’s order.
The order shows Trudgeon continued practicing after his suspension, tried to bargain away a client’s obligation to pay child support, and asserted he represented someone when he didn’t.
Additionally, a referee found, Trudgeon:
failed to maintain confidentiality of files which he had left unsecured. Additional misconduct included the lack of diligence in client matters, failing to communicate with clients, failing to refund an unearned fee, trust account violations, engaging in an ex-parte communication with the court, and making a false statement to a tribunal.
Lastly, he failed to show for a jury trial and kept nearly $25,000 of a settlement for a client in a car accident case.
The court ordered Trudgeon to pay nearly $32,000 in costs and restitution.
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By Diana Hefley
A former Lynnwood attorney was arrested Wednesday night after he was caught allegedly smuggling heroin to inmates in the Snohomish County Jail, according to court papers filed this morning.
Patrick J. Mullen, 63, allegedly told detectives that he’d become addicted to prescription pain killers several years ago after undergoing hip surgery. Mullen said that more recently he’d become addicted to heroin, according to a police affidavit. Mullen said that he agreed to smuggle heroin to inmates and in return he kept a portion of the drugs for his personal use.
Mullen resigned as an attorney in March in lieu of being disbarred, according to the Washington Bar Association. He was first admitted to the bar in 1976 and practiced criminal defense and civil litigation.
The bar association had learned that Mullen in 2006 had taken more than $5,000 from a client in a child custody case but failed to do any work or communicate with the client. After a year, the client fired Mullen and the lawyer agreed to pay the client back $4,190. Mullen has never repaid the client, according to the bar association.
His resignation was based on “conduct involving failure to communicate, trust account irregularities, and dishonesty.”
Despite his resignation as an attorney, Mullen continued to meet with inmates at the jail and identified himself as a lawyer, according to police. Records show that Mullen visited several inmates every five to six days from mid-May through July. Sometimes he would have back-to-back visits.
Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force detectives were tipped off in July by a confidential source who had heard that an attorney was smuggling in drugs. On Wednesday, investigators learned that Mullen was planning to return to the jail, reportedly carrying heroin.
Mullen showed up and identified himself as an attorney and filled out a visitation form. He was escorted to the visitation room to wait for his client to be brought down from the detention area. That’s when police moved in and made the arrest.
A small balloon believed filled with heroin was found in his jacket, according to the police affidavit.
Mullen explained to investigators that initially an inmate had asked him if he could bring in drugs to the jail. Mullen told police he was hesitant at first and started by bringing in chewing tobacco.
Over time, the former lawyer said he started smuggling in heroin. He said associates of the inmates would meet him and provide the drug. He said he kept some for his personal use and then would deliver the rest during attorney-client visits at the jail, the detective wrote.
Mullen told investigators that he’d also smuggled heroin to an inmate on Tuesday at the Whatcom County Jail. That inmate had been transferred from Snohomish County Jail.
Mullen was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of introducing contraband and possession with intent to deliver. He is expected to appear this afternoon in Everett District Court.
Attorneys must provide identification to jail staff and are screened for weapons or other contraband, said Jeff Miller, a chief with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office oversees the jail.
Sheriff’s officials said today that they don’t receive notification when an attorney is disbarred or is forced to resign. In light of yesterday’s arrest, they plan to review the process to see if there is a way to work with the bar association to get notice in the future, Miller said.
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