April 16, 2009
Trust Account Violations Lead To Disbarment
The South Carolina Supreme Court disbarred an attorney for misconduct primarily involving the operation of his trust accounts. He had a general practice that featured a high volume of real estate closings. He was the sole signatory on trust accounts. The investigation began when he bounced a check for over $72,000 in a real estate closing in 2002. He was placed on interim suspension in May 2002 and the court here imposed disbarment nunc pro tunc to the interim suspension.
As to sanction:
We acknowledge it is unclear whether Smalls used the unaccounted for money for his personal benefit. What is clear, however, is that Smalls drastically failed to keep clients’ property safe and mishandled money, moving funds from one account to another to cover shortages. Accordingly, we find that disbarment is an appropriate sanction under these circumstances. Based on precedent and Smalls’ interim suspension since May 16, 2002, we find imposing a sanction of retroactive disbarment adequately protects the public.
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