Sunday, April 16, 2017

Attorney Gets Bar Boot For Negligent Handling Of Escrow Money Resulting In $100K In Losses to One Client

In Huntington Beach, California, the Northern California Record reports:
  • Huntington Beach attorney Michael Vance Wright was disbarred on Jan. 6, 2017, by the State Bar Court of California. The decision to recommend the disbarment of the Orange County attorney stemmed from several counts of misconduct in one client matter in which Wright misappropriated nearly $100,000 of his client’s funds.(1)

    According to the State Bar, Wright was involved in an escrow agreement in 2014 between a Nigerian company’s CEO and an investment company. The CEO deposited $100,000 into a client trust account to help the investment company obtain a $5 million line of credit. Wright allegedly misappropriated $96,500 of the funds by transferring them directly to the investment company and kept the additional $3,500 for himself in escrow fees without helping the investment company receive its line of credit. The attorney disregarded many safeguards put into place for transferring the funds.

    In addition, Wright allegedly did not inform the CEO of his actions and on multiple occasions provided her with excuses as to why the investment company did not receive its line of credit and why her funds had not been returned. As of Jan. 6, the CEO still has not been reimbursed, though the disciplinary ruling states that $100,000 in restitution must be made by the attorney.
Source: Huntington Beach attorney disbarred for misuse of nearly $100,000 in client funds.
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(1) The California State Bar's Client Security Fund is a discretionary fund that can reimburse clients who have lost money or property due to theft or dishonesty by a California lawyer. It is a State Bar program funded entirely by California lawyers. 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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