Saturday, November 21, 2015

Disbarred Lawyer Convicted Of Extortion For Attempted $50K Squeeze On A Client Seeking To Claim Her Share Of Dead Father's Estate Now Faces New Charges For Allegedly Commingling Clients' Trust Account Cash w/ Operating Funds

In Montgomery County, Tennessee, The Tennessean reports:
  • A former Clarksville attorney has been indicted with three counts of theft following a TBI investigation. Former Attorney Carrie Gasaway has been named in the indictment.

    TBI Special Agents began investigating Carrie Gasaway, who operated a law firm in Clarksville until July, on Aug. 6. Agents developed information that Gasaway had commingled funds between her attorney trust account and operating account from Jan. 2014 through Feb. 2015, according to a news release sent out [].

    ***

    The Montgomery County Grand Jury returned indictments charging Gasaway, 43, on Tuesday with three counts of Theft of Property. Gasaway was arrested [] and booked into the Montgomery County Jail on a $55,000 bond.

    Gasaway has been previously convicted of extortion in Montgomery County.

    She was disbarred by the Tennessee Supreme Court in October, admitted guilt in eight disciplinary cases and was ordered to pay restitution to six former clients.

    According to the court's Board of Professional Responsibility, Gasaway engaged in extortion; stole client money from trust; charged unreasonable fees; provided incompetent representation; filed meritless claims; failed to perform professional services; failed to provide diligent representation; failed to refund unearned fees; made false statements of fact and failed to disclose material facts to a tribunal; threatened criminal prosecution to obtain an advantage in a civil proceedings; failed to properly supervise her co-counsel and knowingly ratified his conduct; and failed to report the professional misconduct of co-counsel and partner and engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit and misrepresentations.

    Gasaway and attorney Fletcher Long, who were law partners in October 2010, were convicted of extortion May 12. The state claimed the pair pressured a client to pay them $50,000 to obtain her share of her father’s estate. Gasaway and Long had the client arrested weeks later because she changed lawyers and refused to pay them the entire $50,000 for the short time they worked on her case, according to a news release.

    In June, they both agreed to give up their law licenses permanently to avoid jail time. They were each sentenced to two years in prison, which was suspended to four years probation, and ordered to repay the victim, Michelle Langlois, $2,000 each in restitution.

    The Tennessee Supreme Court officially disbarred Gasaway on Oct. 5. Long was disbarred Sept. 15.

    A news release from the Board of Professional Responsibility says Gasaway violated numerous rules of professional conduct. She was ordered to pay restitution to six former clients, totaling $112,939. If any of them are repaid by the Tennessee Lawyer's Fund for Client Protection, Gasaway will have to refund the fund.(1)

    She is married to Circuit Court Judge John Gasaway, who announced in August that he would retire Dec. 1. He was first elected in 1990 and was elected to a fourth, eight-year term in August 2014.
For the story, see Former Clarksville attorney Gasaway indicted.
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(1) Clients victimized by a theft of funds by a Tennessee-licensed lawyer may be able to seek some reimbursement for being screwed over by turning to the Tennessee Lawyer's Fund for Client Protection, which manages and distribute money collected from annual dues paid by members of the state bar to members of the public who have sustained a financial loss caused by the dishonest conduct of a member of the bar acting as an attorney or a fiduciary.

See generally:
  • N.Y. fund for cheated clients wants thieving lawyers disbarred, a July, 2015 Associated Press story on this Fund reporting that the Fund's executive director, among other things, is calling for prompt referral to the local district attorney when the disciplinary committee has uncontested evidence of theft by a lawyer injuring a client or an admission of culpability;

    When Lawyers Steal the Escrow, a June, 2005 New York Times story describing some cases of client reimbursements ("With real estate business surging and down-payment amounts rising with home prices, the temptation for a lawyer to filch money from a bulging escrow account and later repay it with other clients' money has never been greater, said lawyers who monitor the thefts."),

    Thieving Lawyers Draining Client Security Funds, a December, 1991 New York Times story that gives some-real life examples of how client security funds deal with claims and the pressures the administrators of those funds may feel when left insufficiently financed as a result of the misconduct of a handful of lawyer/scoundrels.
For similar "attorney ripoff reimbursement funds" that attempt to clean up 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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