Sunday, June 25, 2017

Disgraced Lawyer Who Once Held Powerful Post In Rhode Island Legislature Gets 51 Months For Fleecing Dead Client's Estate Of Over $675K, Disabled Woman's Trust Fund $8,900

In Providence, Rhode Island, the Providence Journal reports:
  • Former state lawmaker Raymond E. Gallison Jr. is headed to prison for four years and three months for looting almost $678,000 from a dead man’s estate, stealing from a disabled woman’s trust and pilfering from a taxpayer-funded nonprofit where he worked.(1)

    U.S. District Chief Judge William E. Smith on Friday [June 16] sentenced the one-time chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee, saying Gallison’s crimes amounted more to a breach of his fiduciary duties as a trust fund lawyer and estate executor than public corruption.

    Still, said Smith, his abuse of that fiduciary responsibility harmed “the reputation of the General Assembly, the reputation of the bar and the reputation of the state.”

    Gallison’s lawyer Anthony M. Traini argued Gallison’s political position played little in his crimes and did not rise to the level of political corruption, which could have meant harsher punishment.

    Smith agreed to an extent, but said, “It’s just undeniable” when you are in a position of power and public visibility, as Gallison was, that when you engage in crime it has “all the same impact public corruption has.”

    To the average citizen, said Smith, the legal nuances of Gallison’s criminality “gets lost in the fog of public corruption that permeates the state.”

    Gallison stood during his sentencing and made a brief apology for the “hurt” he had caused his victims and “my family and friends who I have let down.” He will surrender himself on July 10.

    Earlier this week Traini asked Smith for leniency in recommending the Bristol Democrat and lawyer serve three years. He described his client as cooperative with investigators and has willingly paid $162,000 in restitution already.

    In response, prosecutors described in court papers an arrogant Gallison undeserving of a downward departure in sentencing guidelines. They described how Gallison had once confronted an undercover agent watching him, by asking if he knew “who he was [expletive] dealing with,” and who continued to cash dividend checks from his primary victim.

    And prosecutors noted that Traini only returned the stocks his client had stolen after the government seized the stock accounts. Prosecutors recommended that Gallison serve five years.

    “The defendant was a scoundrel who engaged in dishonest, unscrupulous behavior” and hid behind his political position, prosecutor William Ferland said during the sentencing hearing. He recommended Gallison serve up to five and a half years.

    Gallison exploited the trust a vulnerable and disabled woman placed in him — conduct Ferland called “reprehensible” and deserving of stiff punishment: “Stealing from our neighbors, stealing from vulnerable people is unacceptable.”

    And as well as being an embezzler, said Ferland, “he’s a tax cheat.”

    “The defendant was lulled into a sense of entitlement,” thinking that because of his powerful political position “that he wouldn’t be questioned,” said Ferland. “He stole for greed...Plain and simple.”

    A state representative for 16 years until his abrupt resignation in May 2016, Gallison pleaded guilty in March to nine felony counts including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and filing false tax returns. The identity theft charge alone carried a two-year mandatory federal prison term.

    Prosecutors described a four-year scheme that began two months after Ray Medley, of Barrington, died in 2012.

    That’s when Gallison, as the will’s executor, began stealing from the estate. With the bachelor’s credit cards, he went to Sam’s Club, Walmart and Stop & Shop buying groceries, clothes and personal-care products.

    Gallison sold Medley’s Toyota cheap to his own son, a Bristol police officer, and pocketed the $500 rather than deposit the money into Medley’s estate account.

    Eventually he took $677,957 from Medley’s estate, money from stocks that Medley had asked Gallison to distribute to a dozen charities upon his death.(1)

    Gallison also pleaded guilty to misappropriating more than $64,575 from a Providence-based educational nonprofit called Alternative Education Programming ["AEP"], a recipient for years of taxpayer-supported grants.

    Gallison served on the House Finance Committee that approved many of those grants, which also paid his salary for what prosecutors described as a no-show position.

    In 2014 Gallison rose to Finance Committee chairman, even though seven years earlier he had paid a $6,000 ethics fine for repeatedly not disclosing the money he earned at AEP.

    Gallison also pleaded guilty to stealing from a disabled woman, who had hired him as her trustee. Gallison took $8,900 from her trust account and used it to try to hide his misappropriation of money from AEP.

    Traini downplayed the significance of Gallison’s crimes, noting all of the money stolen had been returned — largely because the federal government froze the stock accounts Gallison had taken charge over — and that the victims were largely charities.

    “The victim is also Mr. Medley,” the judge interjected. “He had wishes and intentions when he was alive. Those are part of what should be considered today.”

    Judge Smith said Gallison’s sentence hopefully will particularly deter other lawyers and estate executors, fearing that if they violate the trust given them, they too, could “end up like Ray Gallison.”
Source: Former R.I. Rep. Gallison gets 51 months for stealing from dead man, disabled woman and nonprofit agency.
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(1) The Rhode Island Bar Association's Client Reimbursement Fund was established to provide a public service and to promote confidence in the administration of justice and the integrity of the legal profession by providing some measure of reimbursement to victims who have lost money or property because of theft or misappropriation by a Rhode Island attorney, and occurring in Rhode Island during the course of a client-attorney relationship. The Rhode Island Bar Association through a committee administers the Fund. The Fund is funded by annual contributions made by attorneys who are members of the Rhode Island Bar Association.

Not all losses are compensable by the Fund. A loss must have occurred while the attorney was providing legal services or while the attorney was serving in what is known as a fiduciary capacity, such as a trustee, guardian, conservator, etc. You must file your claim within one year of when you became aware of the theft or misappropriation or from the date when the attorney was publicly disciplined.

The maximum amount, which any one claimant may recover from the Fund arising from an instance or course of dishonest conduct is $50,000, provided, however, that the aggregate maximum amount for which the Fund shall reimburse losses as the result of the dishonesty of a single lawyer or group of lawyers acting in collusion is $200,000.00.

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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