Sunday, May 29, 2016

Another Lawyer Cops Guilty Plea To Fleecing Client Cash; Admits To Raiding Trust Account To The Tune Of $760K, Then Blowing Most Of It Gambling

In Carlisle, Pennsylvania, WHTM-TV Channel 27 reports:
  • A Carlisle attorney who had notoriety as part of Jerry Sandusky’s defense team has admitted in court to stealing about $760,000 from clients for personal uses that included gambling at casinos.(1)

    Karl Rominger, 42, pleaded guilty [] to one felony count of theft by deception and 18 misdemeanor counts of misapplication of entrusted property. Sixty-three other counts were dismissed, including felony theft and money laundering charges.

    Rominger faces up to 56 years in prison at sentencing and he must pay restitution to victims.

    He surrendered his law license after the investigation began in March 2014.

    His attorney said Rominger is getting treatment for his gambling addiction.
Source: Ex-attorney Rominger pleads guilty in theft case.

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.[...] The fact is, however, that theft of client property is not an insignificant or isolated problem within the legal profession. Indeed, it is a hounding phenomenon nationwide, and probably the principal reason why most lawyers nationwide are disbarred from the practice of law.
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(1) The Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security was established to to reimburse victims of attorney dishonesty in the practice of law; to preserve the integrity and protect the good name of the legal profession; and to promote public confidence in the legal system and the administration of justice in Pennsylvania.

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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