Saturday, June 25, 2016

Booted From Legal Profession After Fleecing Clients Out Of Over $330K, Disbarred Attorney Commits Suicide Shortly After Being Tagged w/ Felony Arrest Warrant; Ex-Lawyer Had Also Faced Separate Probe For Allegedly Shuttling Assets To Wife Both Before & After Filing Bankruptcy In Alleged Attempt To Dodge Creditors

In Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Colorado Springs Independent reports:
  • Gregory Chernushin, a local attorney disbarred last year for converting client money to his own use, faces more scrutiny, as does his wife.

    An arrest warrant for Chernushin was issued last week accusing him of six felonies in connection with alleged theft of client money, according to District Attorney's spokeswoman Lee Richards.
    Meantime, Chernushin's wife, Andrea, is the target of a filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court that seeks an accounting of assets Chernushin transferred to her allegedly to avoid payment of his debts, which include more than $350,000 owed to the IRS, as well as hundreds of thousands owed to clients and others.
    Chernushin, a longtime attorney in Colorado Springs who represented clients injured in car crashes or work-related accidents, closed his practice in early 2015 and stopped communicating with clients. Several clients filed complaints with the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel alleging he took their settlements without their permission. Chernushin was disbarred in July and admitted in the disbarment agreement he took $334,865 from a handful of clients.(1)
For more, see Disbarred attorney Chernushin faces criminal charges stemming from his law practice.

For the follow-up story, see Colorado Springs attorney suspected of stealing from clients commits suicide:
  • A longtime Colorado Springs attorney charged with stealing thousands of dollars from his clients has killed himself, authorities confirmed [June 9, 2016].

    Gregory Chernushin, 64, was found Thursday morning [June 9] with a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Target Tree Campground in Hesperus, said La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith. His body was discovered about 8:10 a.m. by workers at the campground on Highway 160 near the Montezuma County line, Smith added.
(1) The Colorado Attorneys' Fund for Client Protection is a fund established by the Colorado Supreme Court to reimburse clients who suffer a loss of money or other property from the dishonest conduct of their attorney. Additionally, the loss must arise out of and by reason of an attorney-client relationship or a court-appointed fiduciary relationship between the attorney and the screwed-over victim. The fund is a remedy of last resort for clients who cannot be repaid from other sources, such as from insurance or from the attorney involved. Claimants are expected to make reasonable efforts to collect from these other sources first.

According to this story, the Fund has, as of February, 2016, roughly $4 million available to clients who were victims of dishonesty by their lawyers, according to Jamie Sudler, chief deputy regulation counsel in the Office of Attorney Regulation. Sudler reportedly said, "We're really, really interested in getting the word out and we try as hard as we can to let people know about it."

If you believe you have lost money or property as a result of the dishonest conduct of your attorney who either is licensed in Colorado, or unlicensed but nevertheless practicing in the state, you should start by filing a disciplinary complaint against the attorney with the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel.

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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