Saturday, January 07, 2017

Oklahoma's Attorney Ripoff Reimbursement Fund Pays Out $176K This Year To Fleeced Ex-Clients Of Rogue Lawyers; One Victim Scores $83K+

In Norman, Oklahoma, The Norman Transcript reports:
  • For the fourth time in five years, the Oklahoma Bar Association has awarded money from its Clients’ Security Fund to victims of former Norman-based attorney Dane Thomas Wilson.

    Wilson, who pled guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of failing to file a tax return in February,(1) reportedly deposited insurance payments into a client trust fund and then wrote checks to himself out of the fund that exceeded the fees he was supposed to receive. In some cases, Wilson’s clients received no money from the insurance payments.

    The bar association is paying Ruby Frame, of Norman, $82,995.18. According to a press release from the organization, Frame hired Wilson in February 2011 to handle an insurance settlement after she was involved in a car crash.

    “The insurance companies kept messing her around, so she looked in the phone book and picked Wilson,” her son-in-law, Shayne Lester, said. “She met with him, and he seemed like a nice guy and had her sign some agreements.”

    Lester said his mother-in-law would follow up with Wilson from time to time. Then she got a letter from an insurance company, stating they were mailing her a check for $25,000, but no money came. A year after hiring Wilson, Frame went down to his offices, only to find out that he was no longer practicing and another lawyer was working on his cases.

    “Come to find out, Dane had received a check for $25,000 and a check for $125,000, and another company was set to send another $25,000, which we were able to intercept,” Lester said. “We filed a report with the Norman Police Department, and the case was quickly transferred to the FBI.”

    Frame should have received $125,000, but that money was deposited into Wilson’s trust account instead.

    Wilson was scheduled to appear in court Friday to receive sentencing. That doesn’t help Frame, whose husband died this summer. Frame’s husband was a veteran, which meant he received VA disability payments, as well as both of their Social Security payments. Now that he’s gone, in addition to the emotional challenges, Frame’s income has been cut by 75 percent.

    That means the more than $80,000 from the OBA is coming just in the nick of time.

    “It couldn’t have come at a better time,” Lester said. “We’re very appreciative of the OBA and the establishment of that fund. They’ve been great to work with.”

    Claims result when an attorney is disbarred, misappropriates client funds or dies before work is performed, according to the OBA. The OBA Clients’ Security Fund Committee is chaired by Norman’s Micheal Salem, who said the claims are typically paid for former attorneys who have “become unstable as a result of personal crisis, substance abuse or illness.”

    “The fund is a remedy of last resort for clients who cannot recover money from other sources, such as insurance, a bonding company, from the attorney involved or the attorney’s estate,” Salem said.(2)

    The OBA is paying out a total of $176,000 this year and has given out more than $2.7 million since the fund was created. The money is generated through annual bar dues, and is aimed at restoring “faith in our profession’s integrity by returning lost money to those who have been harmed by the actions of a few,” OBA President Garvin Isaacs said. The fund has paid more than $325,000 to Wilson’s former clients.
Source: Bar association awards money to fraud victims.

See also, State Bar To Reimburse Client Losses:
  • The Oklahoma Bar Association’s Clients’Security Fund will pay more than $176,000 to 27 Oklahomans who lost money or other property from the dishonest conduct of their attorney. The association is reimbursing money to the clients of 10 deceased or former lawyers whose actions led to the losses.
(1) Wilson has since been sentenced to 30 months in federal prison. See Former Norman attorney who defrauded clients sentenced to 30 months.

(2) 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.