Thursday, March 23, 2023

False Letter And Venmo Payment Draws Suspension

The Colorado Presiding Disciplinary Judge has accepted a 34-month consent suspension

In 2016, Newell met a Peruvian woman online. They began a romantic relationship, and Newell proposed marriage to facilitate the woman’s medical treatment in the United States. Newell served as the woman’s sponsor. She arrived in the United States in May 2017. The couple married in August 2017 and had a son together. Newell’s spouse was awarded a temporary green card. But the relationship deteriorated, and Newell threatened to withdraw his support or to seek her deportation. In April 2021, after Newell moved to Mississippi with his family, he told his spouse that he had purportedly received a letter from USCIS, instructing them to mail their passports to verify their recent out-of-country travel. Newell’s spouse questioned the authenticity of the letter, but Newell insisted that he did not create the letter. She gave Newell her passport; he eventually returned it to her after some time passed. The couple filed for divorce in September 2021. During the disciplinary investigation, Newell initially denied creating this letter but later admitted to fabricating it; he did so, he said, to prevent his spouse from taking their son out of the country. Newell is currently under a court-ordered child support obligation but is now several months behind in his child-support payments. No evidence indicates that he has moved to modify his support obligation.

In a client matter, a jury entered a verdict in favor of one of Newell’s clients in April 2021. On the client’s behalf, Newell filed a countersuit. The client sent money to Newell via Venmo to cover the filing fee; that money went into Newell’s personal account. The parties later stipulated to a comprehensive settlement, and $20,000.00 was sent via Venmo to Newell’s personal account. Newell’s client had an interest in at least part of these funds. Newell acknowledges he did not place these funds in a trust account.

(Mike Frisch)

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