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Justices adopt repayment plan in UPL case

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The Indiana Supreme Court has adopted a repayment plan for an Indianapolis company it found engaged in the unauthorized practice of law, ordering officials to reimburse the state bar association and former clients during the next six years.

An order came Jan. 20 in State ex rel. Indiana State Bar Association v. United Financial Systems Corp., et al., No. 94S00-0810-MS-551, the latest, and possibly final, court action in a case that has been ongoing for more than three years. The justices found nearly two years ago that United Financial Systems Corp. engaged in UPL through an estate planning “trust mill” by how it sold wills and estate planning services. The justices ordered past customers be refunded, but that didn’t happen and former Monroe Circuit Judge Viola Taliaferro was appointed to preside over the case.

She submitted a 61-page report to the justices in December that outlined the repayment plan. The report found the company still owed nearly $2.4 million and that the Office of the Indiana Attorney General should be allowed to disburse half of the refunds immediately and the other half when the money’s available over the course of several years.

In July 2011, she found the officials at United Financial Systems hadn’t complied with the Supreme Court’s order in April 2010 to repay past estate planning customers. But she held off on finding the company and its officials — Richard Follett, Jayne Follett, Richard Follett II and Beau Follett — in contempt in the December 2011 order. The Supreme Court agreed that the United Financial leaders wouldn’t be held in contempt if they complied with the repayment plan.

Finding that the Folletts asserted “frivolous, unreasonable and groundless arguments in an effort to delay issuing refunds,” Taliaferro decided that the ISBA is entitled to recover its attorney fees and costs incurred in enforcing the Supreme Court’s original April 2010 order.

In Taliaferro’s December 2011 order, she determined the Folletts owe $2,391,808.17. The ISBA is still owed $115,000 as of Dec. 14. The justices on Jan. 13 ordered United Financial pay the Indiana Supreme Court $16,002.95 for the costs of the proceeding against it. Specifically, the order calculated the costs to entail $14,978.45 for the commissioner fees and expenses and $1,024.50 for court reporter and related court costs.

Some payments have already begun under the payment plan’s terms, and United Financial must now pay the ISBA $5,000 per month through November 2013. The order also details specific payments that must be made through 2018 when the final payments are supposed to be made to the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. If Richard and Jayne Follett sell their former Boone County home that’s listed for sale, the net proceeds are to be made as part of the payments toward the remaining refund amount.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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