Thursday, August 20, 2015

Florida Lawyer Representing Dozens Facing Foreclosure Skips Town, Leaving Clients High & Dry, Out Ten$ Of Thousand$; State Bar Says Victims Can Apply To Its Ripoff Reimbursement Fund For Redress

In Palm Beach County, Florida, WPTV-TV Channel 5 reports:
  • An attorney finds himself disbarred after the Florida State Bar says he took tens of thousands of dollars from dozens of clients and vanished.

    Robert T. Parr handled more than 400 cases in Palm Beach County alone. Mostly representing people losing their homes to foreclosure.

    All information the Contact 5 Investigators have gathered indicates Parr has skipped the state and many former clients are just realizing they've been victimized.

    ***

    [Victim Keith] Tarpley says Parr vanished. He says he couldn't reach Parr in person, by phone or email. That is, until he received a mass email from Parr's office addressed to more than 60 clients, apologizing for the lack of communication and assuring everyone "your case is moving along as expected."

    "And you've actually met some of these people?" asked [Contact 5 Investigator Jared] Werksma. "I've spoken with a lot of them," said Tarpley who heard stories very similar to his own.

    "All of them paying thousands of dollars?" asked Werksma. "Some of them even more. $10,000, $12,000." Tarpley says he forwarded the information he gathered to the judge handling his foreclosure case. The testimony eventually triggered an investigation by the Florida State Bar. The investigation examined complaints from 17 of Parr's clients and concluded Parr:

    "Abandoned his law practice without warning leaving his clients in the midst of their pending legal matters to their detriment."

    "He meant to do what he did," says Tarpley

    The Contact 5 Investigators tried to find Parr at his Stuart office where the property manager of the Nexus building told us Parr, "disappeared months ago, stopped paying rent and his account was sent to collections."

    We also called two offices listed for Parr in West Palm Beach and one in Fort Lauderdale. All the numbers were out of service; when we did get through to receptionists in the buildings we were told Parr left without warning and left no forwarding address.

    A former receptionist of Parr's, named in the State Bar investigation, told detectives she thinks Parr went to Tennessee. We were able to find a Robert T. Parr in Oak Ridge Tennessee. We've left multiple messages at the phone number listed for the address but we've received no response.

    "If you add everything up, I'm probably out somewhere around $50,000," says Tarpley. He attributes that number to the fines, legal fees and additional attorneys he had to hire in order to dig out of the mess Parr left him in.

    Tarpley says even now he's struggling to hold on to his newly refinanced home, which isn't scheduled to be paid off until 2037. Still, Tarpley says he's lucky to have his home at all. The state investigation shows many of Parr's other clients lost theirs to default judgments when Parr didn't show up in court repeatedly.

    Tarpley says he's hoping the story isn't over yet. "I do have some faith that there is still justice."

    The Florida Bar says clients of Parr's who lost money can apply for reimbursement through the Clients Security Fund.(1) The State Attorney's Office says criminal charges against Parr are possible but civil suits are more realisitic if Parr can be located.
For the story, see Contact 5 Investigators track disbarred attorney who leaves hundreds of clients looking for answers (Victims say attorney cost them their homes/cash).
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(1) The Florida Bar's Clients' Security Fund was established to reimburse clients who have suffered a loss due to misappropriation or embezzle­ment by a Florida-licensed attorney.

For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that sometimes help cover the financial mess created by the dishonest conduct of lawyers licensed in other states and Canada, see:
Maps available courtesy of The National Client Protection Organization, Inc.

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