Saturday, November 19, 2016

Two Years After Disbarment, Ex-Lawyer Finally Feels Pinch, Faces Three Felony Counts For Allegedly Filching $150K In Client Funds; Local DA Seeks More Potential Victims; Defendant's Attorney: He Didn't Mean To Steal, Just Sloppy In Handling Clients' Cash

In Santa Ana, California, the Press-Enterprise reports:
  • A former personal-injury lawyer from Riverside has been charged with misappropriating $150,000 in client-settlement funds in Orange County, using the money to pay other clients and for personal debts, authorities said.(1)

    Fred Raymond Hunter, Jr., 50, pleaded not guilty [] to three felony counts of embezzlement by a fiduciary of trust, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. If convicted, he faces up to five years in prison.

    Hunter, the son of former Anaheim mayor and attorney Fred Hunter Sr., was disbarred in 2014.

    His attorney, Rance Welch, said Hunter has paid full restitution to the victims and is remorseful. He said Hunter concedes that he mishandled his clients’ funds but said there was no criminal intent. “He never had any intention of stealing money, he just didn’t handle his clients’ trusts properly,” Welch said.

    Prosecutors said Hunter misappropriated funds from at least three clients in 2013 or 2014.

    Hunter was disbarred after an investigation by the State Bar of California determined that he had mishandled a client’s trust account. In 2003, his law license was suspended over similar allegations of mishandling his client-trust account.
Source: Former Riverside attorney charged with misappropriating $150,000 in client funds (A former personal-injury lawyer from Riverside has been charged with misappropriating $150,000 in client-settlement funds in Orange County, using the money to pay other clients and for personal debts, authorities said).

For the Orange County, California District Attorney press release, see OCDA Seeks Public's Help Identifying Potential Additional Victims Of Attorney Charged With Using $150,000 In Client Settlement Funds To Pay Personal Debts.
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(1) The California State Bar's Client Security Fund is a public service of the California legal profession. The State Bar sponsored the creation of this fund to help protect consumers of legal services by alleviating losses resulting from the dishonest conduct of attorneys. The amount the fund may reimburse for theft committed by a California lawyer depends on when the loss occurred. A maximum of $50,000 is reimbursable if the loss occurred before January 1, 2009. A maximum of $100,000 is reimbursable if the loss occurred on or after January 1, 2009.

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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