Saturday, May 14, 2022

Quarterly Report

The highly informative April 2022 quarterly report of the North Carolina Office of Counsel summarizes a number of matters at various stages of the disciplinary process, including

Nikita V. Mackey – 19 DHC 9 and 19 DHC 23
Mackey, of Charlotte, collected legal fees and engaged in the unauthorized practice of law while his law license was administratively suspended, neglected and did not communicate with two clients, did not refund unearned fees, made a false representation in his petition for reinstatement, did not participate in good faith in the mandatory fee dispute resolution process, and did not respond to the Grievance Committee. In a separate case, Mackey neglected and did not communicate with a client, vandalized cars owned by his former spouse and her father by discharging a firearm into them, negotiated a check upon which he forged his former spouse’s endorsement, and slept during a substantial portion of a client’s federal criminal trial. Mackey did not appear at the hearing and was disbarred by the DHC

Brian Love of Durham submitted an affidavit of surrender of his law license. Love used the personal information of victims to falsely register online accounts in their names, impersonated victims in sexually explicit communications with others, obtained and transmitted sexually explicit images of victims to others without their consent, and used fraudulent online accounts to repeatedly text victims, with the intent to harass them and cause them substantial emotional distress. Love pled guilty to the federal felony offenses of Aggravated Identity Theft and Stalking. He was disbarred by the Wake County Superior Court.

Robert Lewis – 18 DHC 36
Lewis, of Raleigh, was sanctioned by the bankruptcy court because he did not file required pleadings, filed pleadings containing false and misleading representations, charged an impermissible fee, did not maintain a client ledger of entrusted funds, affixed his clients’ electronic signatures to pleadings and other documents without their consent, did not adequately communicate with his clients, disobeyed the rules of a tribunal, and did not report his misconduct to the State Bar as the bankruptcy court ordered him to do. It is also alleged that Lewis violated multiple trust accounting rules, had an improper sexual relationship with a client, and perjured himself while being deposed by the State Bar. Hearing was continued and has not been rescheduled.

Frank Chut, Jr. – 21 DHC 6
It is alleged that Chut, of Greensboro and an Assistant United States Attorney, misled a witness testifying before a grand jury by informing the witness that she was not the target or subject of the investigation when Chut knew that the witness had some level of involvement in the criminal activity and later presented evidence against the witness to a grand jury resulting in a criminal indictment of the witness. In December 2021, the DHC entered an order staying the proceedings so the State Bar can investigate additional allegations.

Lloyd T. Kelso – 21 DHC 21
It is alleged that Kelso, of Gastonia, attempted to have sexual relations with a client, provided financial assistance to a client, and revealed confidential information. Hearing has not been scheduled.

Mark A. Key – 21 DHC 23
It is alleged that Mark Key, of Lillington, engaged in courtroom misconduct that resulted in a mistrial, had a sexual relationship with a client, withheld taxes from employee paychecks and did not remit those funds to taxing authorities, mishandled entrusted funds, engaged in mortgage fraud, and was delinquent in paying substantial federal and state taxes in his personal and professional capacities. Hearing has not been scheduled.

Michael DeMayo – 22 DHC 1
It is alleged that DeMayo, of Charlotte, engaged in an 80-minute telephone call in an effort to coerce, mislead, and frighten a client not to transfer her case to a departing associate; engaged in dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation in his statements to the departing associate about the content of that call; and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by threatening State Bar disciplinary action as part of an offer to settle a dispute over attorney fees. Hearing is scheduled for August 3-5.

Michelle Congleton Smith – 22 DHC 13
It is alleged that Smith, of Raleigh, did not verify wiring instructions before wiring payoff funds in a refinance transaction. As a result, she wired the payoff to a fraudster. It is also alleged that she made multiple false statements to the State Bar during its investigation of the incident. Hearing has not been scheduled.

(Mike Frisch)

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