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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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