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Justices find attorney practicing law after resignation

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The Indiana Supreme Court has fined Brian L. Nehrig $1,000 and extended his ban from practice after finding he committed the unauthorized practice of law. Nehrig resigned from the bar in 2007, and he was sentenced in 2010 after pleading guilty to mail fraud.

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission charged Nehrig with engaging in a pattern of fraudulent practices in representing a mortgage company in foreclosure actions, including his alteration of sheriff's deeds. Nehrig worked as a foreclosure attorney doing work for Citifinancial in 2005 and 2006. Nehrig sometimes set up side deals with friends and associates to buy properties at sheriff’s sales, and he did not send Citifinancial the profits. Citifinancial lost $66,000 from Nehrig’s scheme, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission began investigating Nehrig, and he was initially suspended, but later tendered his resignation in August 2007. The FBI charged him with mail fraud in October 2009, to which he pleaded guilty. He received three years of probation.

But after his resignation, he rented space at the law office of John R. McManus Jr. and was included in a staff photo on the firm’s website. Nehrig’s primary focus was facilitating “short sales” of real estate, but he performed other work outside of the office, including tax issues. He also opened a checking account in the name of “Brian Nehrig d/b/a/ McManus & Associates” without McManus’ knowledge.

“In violation of his resignation from the bar, Nehrig worked in a law office and he engaged in activities that crossed the line into the practice of law, some of which were in the very field—real estate transactions—in which the charges leading to his resignation occurred. By using a bank account with the d/b/a of a law firm and directing third parties to make checks out for him using a law firm name, Nehrig held himself out as an attorney,” Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote in the Sept. 7 disciplinary order.

“Nehrig's violation of the order accepting his resignation was on-going, pervasive, and deliberate, and it exposed the public to the danger of misconduct by Nehrig, who has yet to prove his remorse, rehabilitation, and fitness to practice law through the reinstatement process. See Admis. Disc. R. 23(4)(b). Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that a substantial fine and an extension of his removal from practice is warranted.”

Nehrig has 60 days from September 7 to pay the fine.

McManus was also disciplined as a result his assistance “albeit indirectly” in Nehrig’s unauthorized practice of law. The justices instituted a public reprimand. McManus said he didn’t believe Nehrig was crossing the line into the practice of law in his short sale work and didn’t know of Nehrig’s improper outside activities. He wanted to help Nehrig make a living after his resignation, and McManus has no disciplinary history.

 

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  1. The fee increase would be livable except for the 11% increase in spending at the Disciplinary Commission. The Commission should be focused on true public harm rather than going on witch hunts against lawyers who dare to criticize judges.

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