Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Investigators: Lawyer's Receipt Of $220K From Client To Be Held In Escrow For Home Purchase Bypassed Trust Account, Went Directly Into His Pocket; Bar Officials Say He Glommed An Add'l $100K From Three Other Clients In Unrelated Complaints

In Manchester, Connecticut, the Hartford Courant reports:
  • Authorities searching for a local lawyer and real estate investor found him hiding in a hotel in Manchester Friday night [May 26] and charged him with larceny.

    Wayne Francis, a 46-year old real estate lawyer from the Hartford area, is the subject of investigations by state prosecutors, the Rocky Hill police department, the state police and investigators for the state judicial department who prosecute misconduct by lawyers.

    He was taken into custody at the Hampton Inn in Manchester Friday night and was being held over the weekend by Rocky Hill police.

    Inspectors for the state's attorney's office in New Britain located Francis and arrested him on a first degree larceny warrant issued by the Rocky Hill police. He is accused of stealing about $220,000 from a client in Rocky Hill.(1)He is expected to be presented in Superior Court in New Britain on Tuesday.

    The Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, which disciplines wayward lawyers, also had been searching for Francis, who is the subject of multiple grievances by clients, three of which accuse him of taking another $100,000 or so under questionable circumstances.
    A complaint by Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel asserts that the $220,000 or so Francis is accused of stealing consisted of two checks he obtained from a client preparing to close on the purchase of a home in Rocky Hill. The client was a family of real estate investors. Normally, lawyers deposit closing funds in law firm trust accounts. There are indications that Francis did not. Subpoenaed bank records obtained by state investigators show that Francis's office trust account had a balance of no more than $90 over recent years.

    The Rocky Hill Police Department in recent days has refused to discuss its case against Francis and said it would not make public its arrest warrant because doing so could jeopardize a related investigation by another police agency. According to two sources, that agency is the state police, which last week had begun looking into matters connected to an attempt by Francis to obtain a new loan from another private lender.
    Authorities had been searching for Francis for several days, going so far as to lay in wait at a courthouse in Rockville where Francis was scheduled to appear. Law enforcement officials said Francis avoided the trap by hiring another lawyer to act as his stand-in.

    Inspectors for the New Britain State's Attorney, who obtained the arrest warrant, had been trying unsuccessfully to locate Francis in recent days by sending signals to his cellular telephone. The telephone apparently was turned off. A law enforcement official said the inspectors got a positive signal Friday night that led them to the Hampton Inn.

    Officials said Francis refused to cooperate and the authorities had to obtain another warrant to enter the room and take him into custody.
Source: Local Lawyer, Real Estate Investor Charged With Larceny.
(1) In Connecticut, the Client Security Fund is a fund established by the rules of the Connecticut Superior Court to provide reimbursement to individuals who have lost money or property as a result of the dishonest conduct of an attorney practicing law in the State of Connecticut, in the course of the attorney-client relationship. The fund provides a remedy for clients who are unable to obtain reimbursement for their loss from any other source.

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.