Maine's Lawyer Ripoff Reimbursement Fund Coughs Up Maximum $100K Payout To Two Estates Of Now-Deceased Clients Who Were Fleeced By Now-Disbarred Attorney Out Of Over $480K
- A fund established to reimburse clients who are the victims of an attorney's dishonest conduct gave $100,000 to the trusts of two women from whom he embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The trustees for [Maine] Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection voted Nov. 1 to reimburse a total of $100,000 to the trusts of Veronica Pendleton and Doris Schmidt. The fund is financed through registration fees paid by every licensed attorney in the state. No taxpayer dollars are provided to the fund.
Schmidt granted William Dawson power of attorney in 2012 and Pendleton retained Dawson in 2005. Both women have since passed away.
Jacqueline Rodgers, executive director of Lawyers' Fund for Client Protection, said the money given to Dawson's clients represent the maximum amount that can be reimbursed.(1) According to the fund's 2015 annual report, a total of $66,271 was reimbursed to clients last year.
According to previously published reports, Dawson paid himself $149,275 from Pendleton's accounts for his services for the year ending in April 2013, and $178,500 during a nine-month to one-year period from Schmidt's accounts.
Dawson pleaded guilty in March to two counts of felony theft and three counts of failing to pay state income taxes. He was sentenced to five years in prison but will serve only 2 ½ years and also be on probation for three years.
He was also ordered to pay $482,750 in restitution to the estates of Veronica Pendleton and Doris Schmidt.
“The attorney-client relationship depends upon the trust of clients,” Fund Chairman Stephen Schwartz said in a statement. "It is a shame when an attorney betrays that trust and tarnishes the reputation of the entire profession."
Dawson was disbarred Aug. 1, according to a Maine Supreme Court ruling.(2) In addition to paying restitution to the estates of Pendleton and Schmidt, Dawson must also pay $10,485.66 for costs related to his disbarment proceeding.
[Maine] Lawyers Fund for Client Protection was established by a Maine Supreme Judicial Court order in 1997. The fund's purpose is to “promote public confidence in the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession by reimbursing clients who suffer losses caused by an attorney's dishonest conduct.”(3)
Since its creation, the fund has reimbursed $552,138 to claimants.
Clients who believe they suffered financial losses because of attorney theft, embezzlement or misappropriation can contact the fund at 623-7801.
(2) This lowlife also has a prior history of misconduct in dealing with his clients that the state bar was aware of. See Board of Overseers of the Bar v. William L. Dawson, Jr., Esq, (June 27, 2011).
(3) 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:
- Directory Of Lawyers' Funds For Client Protection (now includes a listing for Canadian client protection funds, courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.