Saturday, April 01, 2017

Pennsylvania Supremes Nix "Pathological Gambling Addiction" Defense, Place Lawyer On Emergency Temporary Suspension Pending Possible Disbarment For Allegedly Siphoning Almost $100K In Trust Account Cash Belonging To Five Clients

In Washington County, Pennsylvania, the Observer-Reporter reports:
  • A state Supreme Court panel Wednesday [March 15] ordered that Cecil attorney and former state representative Jesse White be placed on emergency temporary suspension over allegations he breached rules of conduct, misappropriating nearly $100,000 in money clients had entrusted to him.

    The Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court said White’s “continued practice of law is causing immediate and substantial public or private harm because of his misappropriation of entrusted client funds and other egregious conduct in manifest violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct.”

    The disciplinary board said White’s suspension will take effect April 14. Rachel Nusinov, an administrative assistant with the board, said its Office of Disciplinary Counsel will file a petition to have White disciplined. It is also possible White and the office could reach an agreement for “discipline on consent,” she said.

    A petition from the Office of Disciplinary Counsel states five clients entrusted White with a total of $118,298 between December 2015 and late November of last year. White deposited those funds into a professional trust account in his name. As of Dec. 30, the account was drawn down to $12,954 because of payments “unrelated to his entrustments,” the petition said.

    The office alleged White misappropriated the remaining $105,344. However, once the office adjusted its tally of the funds entrusted to White and accounted for additional funds in the trust, it put the amount of the deficiency at $96,446 as of Jan. 18.(1)

    White’s attorney, Amy Coco, wrote in a filing seeking to block the temporary suspension that her client had “sought help for a pathological gambling addiction” and placed himself on a list for exclusion from state casinos.

    State authorities took the step of asking the court for White’s emergency suspension when he refused to tender his voluntary resignation from the state bar, according to the state’s filing.
For more, see Attorney, former legislator White faces suspension.
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(1) The Pennsylvania Lawyers Fund for Client Security was established by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1982 to reimburse clients (at least partially, if not fully) who have suffered a loss as a result of a misappropriation of funds by their Pennsylvania attorney.

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.

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