Friday, January 24, 2014
An Indiana attorney had a trust account, an operating account and an account to hold funds to satisfy tax obligations. The attorney employed an office manager ( T.T.) to administer the accounts.
In a period of financial stress, the office manager engaged in "malfeasance" with the intent to shield the attorney from the bad financial news. The stress release only induced a greater stressor -- nine overdraft notices from the Bar.
After an initial failure to respond to the ensuing investigations, the attorney took steps to make things right.
Respondent's counsel immediately began investigating the overdrafts and the inquiries from the Commission. Respondent's counsel requested trust account bank statements from T.T. on several occasions to no avail. T.T. finally provided Respondent's counsel with the trust account bank statements, but only after she modified them in an effort to conceal her misdeeds. T.T. eventually admitted to making improper transfers of client funds, forging Respondent's name to trust account checks, forging Respondent's name on the June 15, 2011 response to the Commission, and comingling law firm funds with client funds in the tax account. Upon discovering T.T.'s misdeeds, Respondent immediately repaid all missing funds to the trust account. Respondent also employed a Certified Public Accountant to comprehensively audit his trust account.
As a result, the Indiana Supreme Court ordered a stayed six-month suspension and 18 months probation. (Mike Frisch)