Saturday, March 12, 2016

Massachusetts Bar Indefinitely Suspends Attorney For Allegedly Fleecing Thousand$ From Dead Client's Estate While Handling Uncomplicated Estate, Failing To Keep Cash In Trust Account, Neglecting To Render Accurate Accounting To Beneficiaries

In Fall River, Massachusetts, Wicked Local Fall River reports:
  • The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers has suspended a Fall River attorney indefinitely for misusing client trust funds and for charging “clearly” excessive fees.

    The state said that attorney Jeffrey S. Entin, [...], misused more than $28,000 from a deceased client’s estate for his own benefit, depriving the client’s heirs of their money.

    According to documents from the board, Entin served as the executor of the late client’s estate, but Entin did not keep the funds in a trust account and failed to render and accurate accounting to the client’s beneficiaries.

    The Board of Bar Overseers also said Entin, despite what should have been an uncomplicated handling of the estate, charged the estate $117,214.50, an amount that included $72,750 in legal fees for 286.25 hours of legal work — an amount that Entin inflated — as well as $27,402 for work performed in his capacity as executor even though he performed no work as executor that he did not already charge and bill to the estate as a legal fee.

    The board also said Entin charged the estate $17,062.50 for legal services that were unrelated to his work on behalf of the estate.

    The board’s order says Entin will be indefinitely suspended from practicing law, beginning in mid-March.
Source: Fall River lawyer suspended indefinitely for misusing client's money (The Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers has suspended a Fall River attorney indefinitely for misusing client trust funds and for charging “clearly” excessive fees).

See, generally, Frederick Miller, "If You Can't Trust Your Lawyer .... ?", 138 Univ. of Pennsylvania Law Rev. 785 (1990) for more on the apparent, long-standing tolerance for deceit by many in the legal profession:
  • This tolerance to deception is encouraged by the profession's institutional civility. Seldom is a fig called a fig, or a shyster a shyster. No, our euphemisms are wonderfully polite: "frivolous conduct," or a "lack of candor;" or "law-office failure;" or, heaven forbid, a "peculation," a "defalcation," or a "negative balance" in a law firms's trust account.

    There is also widespread reluctance on the part of lawyers --- again, some lawyers --- to discuss publicly, much less acknowledge, that they have colleagues who engage in deceit and unprofessional conduct.

    This reluctance is magnified when the brand of deceit involves the theft of client money and property, notwithstanding that most lawyers would agree that stealing from clients is the ultimate ethical transgression.
(1) The Clients' Security Fund of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was created to help compensate members of the public who have sustained a financial loss caused by the dishonest conduct of a member of the Massachusetts bar acting as an attorney or a fiduciary.

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.

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.

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