Attorney Suspected Of Embezzling $940K+ In Client Cash Among Four Lawyers Disciplined By Florida Supremes For Playing Fast & Loose w/ Their Clients' Funds &/Or Related Trust Account Records
Of the 21, the following four (4) have either been booted or indefinitely suspended amidst allegations of playing fast and loose with their clients' cash(1) and/or the related trust account records:
- James Lee Clark, Tampa, suspended until further order effective 30 days from a Nov. 7 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1992) According to a petition for emergency suspension, Clark appeared to be causing great public harm by misappropriating at least $946,764 of client funds. (Case No. SC16-1994)
Christopher R. Harris, Louisville, Ky., disbarred effective immediately, following an Oct. 27 court order. (Admitted to practice: 2006) A compliance audit revealed that Harris continually had shortages in his trust account, commingled earned fees with client money, and paid personal expenses from his trust account. The audit further revealed that Harris did not maintain minimum trust accounting records and procedures. In at least two instances, despite promises, Harris failed and refused to refund money to clients. (Case No. SC16-348)
Tonja J. Helton, Tampa. The Supreme Court granted Helton’s request for a disciplinary revocation, effective immediately, following an Oct. 27 court order, with leave to seek readmission after five years. (Admitted to practice: 2009) Disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment. A disciplinary matter pending against Helton includes allegations of misappropriation of client funds. (Case No. SC16-1546)
Dale Eugene Krout, Jr., Naples, suspended until further order, effective 30 days from a Nov. 9 court order. (Admitted to practice: 1981) Krout was found in contempt for failure to comply with a grievance committee subpoena to produce certain trust account records. (Case No. SC16-1628)
Editor's Note: Key discipline case files that are public record are posted to attorneys’ individual online Florida Bar profiles. To view discipline documents, follow these steps.
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:
- Directory Of Lawyers' Funds For Client Protection (August 2016) (includes Canadian recovery funds, courtesy of the American Bar Association);
- Check the USA Client Protection Funds Map;
- Check the Canada Client Protection Funds Map.