Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Real Estate Closing Attorney Loses Law License Over Her Failure To Properly Oversee Her Trust Account, Allowing Over $700K In Cash Mostly Intended To Pay Off Existing Mortgages To Be Pilfered Out From Under Her

In Virginia Beach, Virginia, The Virginian-Pilot reports:
  • The law license of a longtime Virginia Beach attorney was revoked this week after she admitted to mishandling more than $700,000 from real estate transactions in which she was the settlement agent.(1)

    Beverly Anne English, who was admitted to the Virginia State Bar in 1984 and had never been disciplined by the organization before, acknowledged the allegations were true and consented to the revocation, according to an order released by the State Bar [last month].

    In an affidavit included with the order, English conceded that she failed to adequately oversee real estate transactions in which she acted as a settlement agent. She also admitted that she did not properly keep tabs on her trust account, which allowed third parties she contracted with to access those funds and “engage in a scheme of embezzlement and fraud.” But she denied any involvement or awareness of the scheme.

    “I did not participate in, assist with, or have knowledge of, any of the embezzlements, and I have reported the suspected responsible parties to law enforcement,” she said in the affidavit.

    The majority of the cases involved mortgages that were not paid off following a real estate transaction, said Senior Assistant Bar Council M. Brent Saunders. The payoffs were supposed to have been made by several title and settlement agencies run by a married couple that English had worked with and had trusted for about 17 years, according to a letter from English’s attorney, Carl Eason.

    The State Bar found no evidence of criminal activity by English, Saunders said.

    “The ethical misconduct on her part arose from her over-reliance on third parties who provided settlement services and acted as disbursement agents in transactions in which she was settlement agent, combined with her failure to provide adequate oversight of real estate closings in which she acted as settlement agent and to reconcile her own trust account for a number of years,” he wrote in an email.

    Neither English nor her attorney could be reached for comment.
Source: Longtime Virginia Beach lawyer loses law license for mishandling settlement money.
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(1) The Virginia State Bar established the Clients’ Protection Fund to reimburse persons who suffer a financial loss because of dishonest conduct by a Virginia lawyer, and arising from a lawyer-client relationship or a fiduciary relationship between the lawyer and the claimant. Each petitioner may receive no more than $75,000.00 for losses that occurred on or after July 1, 2015 or $50,000.00 for losses that occurred before July 1, 2015. The claim must be filed within seven years from when the victim knew or should have known about the loss.

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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