YIR: Bad barristers pay price for legal misdeeds

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Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: an Indiana attorney accused of stealing potentially millions from his clients is criminally charged and resigns from the bar. No, it’s not William Conour (more on him in a minute); 2014’s version is Valparaiso attorney Clark W. Holesinger. Holesinger was charged in February in Porter County with four counts of Class C felony theft of property valued at $100,000 or more and one count of Class D felony theft.

conour-bill-mug Conour

Holesinger is accused of stealing $817,962 from North Star Stone Inc.; $233,410 from RBF Island Investment LLC; $215,406 from ITF LLC; and $371,736 from Maridor LLC, with the earliest alleged thefts taking place in February 2011. All of the companies are located in Valparaiso and owned by Chris Andrews, according to the probable cause affidavit, which says Holesinger also had been Andrews’ family attorney since the mid-1990s.

Those companies filed separate civil tort and malpractice suits against Holesinger, and the parties reached an agreement on the matters, which was not disclosed. Porter Superior Judge William Alexa in February found Holesinger in direct contempt for failing to appear at a January hearing on the plaintiffs’ petition for accounting.

In March, Holesinger tendered his resignation from the bar. His criminal case was scheduled to go to trial Dec. 1, but was reset for April 2015.

Around the time Holesinger resigned from the bench, another Indiana attorney who made headlines for her actions as a judge was removed from her judicial post by the Indiana Supreme Court. On March 4, the justices disciplined Marion Superior Judge Kimberly Brown after finding she engaged in significant judicial misconduct. Brown had been on paid suspension since Jan. 9 pending final discipline.

Brown Brown

A panel of special masters found that the Judicial Qualifications Commission proved more than 80 rule violations by Brown on 46 of 47 charges. She was accused of wrongful detention of at least nine criminal defendants, failing to properly oversee her court, improperly supervising trials, failing to act on Court of Appeals orders, showing hostility toward parties who came before her, and retaliating against court staff who complained.

Justice Robert Rucker proposed a 60-day suspension without pay followed by removal from office stayed for one year of supervised probation by the Division of State Court Administration.

Brown is not barred from practicing law but the discipline does render her ineligible for judicial office.

Former treasurer for the Marion County Bar Association Trezanay Atkins lost her law license for at least two years after the justices suspended her Sept. 22. Atkins admitted to converting the proceeds of more than 50 checks drawn on the association’s bank account totaling more than $9,100 while she served as treasurer from June 2011 to December 2012. She told the Indiana Lawyer in June that she was resigned to the likelihood she would lose her license as a result of her actions, which she said she took because she was in personal financial distress.

Atkins made restitution to the MCBA, but the court did not find that to be a mitigating factor.

Atkins shut down her law practice prior to the discipline and launched a public relations company.

atkins Atkins

This year, the government decided it would not seek a longer prison sentence for ex-attorney William Conour, who was convicted in 2013 of one count of wire fraud stemming from claims he stole nearly $7 million from clients’ trust funds over the years. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in October 2013.

Conour appealed his sentence in December, arguing the court failed to investigate his defense counsel’s motions to withdraw during the restitution proceedings after Conour had been sentenced. Various public defenders had appeared for Conour at the time the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana became aware the agency was holding $2,512 from a Conour trust fund while he also was subject to the court’s restitution order. Chief Judge Richard Young ordered that money turned over to the court in July.

Conour also claimed he is subject to “suspicionless” searches as a part of his supervised release, and that special terms of his release are overly broad, such as a provision that he must regularly work and support his dependents when he is released from prison. He will have no dependents at that time. The government’s reply brief is due Jan. 2, 2015.

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