Monday, December 12, 2016

Lump Of Coal


  • As was first reported in the comments here, LawyersWest shut down suddenly, firing employees and leaving clients in the lurch. Now, attorney Robert Graham's law license has been temporarily suspended and there are allegations that his trust account, which should have had $13 million in it, has significantly less. Jasen and Brandi Cassady, the attorneys appointed to take over LawyersWest files set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for the clients. Other probate attorneys have stepped up to help. Graham is being represented in the bar proceedings by P. Sterling Kerr and has said that Graham voluntarily relinquished his license, is not a flight risk, and is going to be represented by someone else with regard to a criminal investigation. [RJ; LasVegasNow]
  • A lot of details are missing from the reports in the news--can you fill in the rest? Where did the money go? How did it suddenly see the light of day? Do you think this GoFundMe account is the right idea?
  • Judge Michael Villani upheld the guilty plea of Erik Nowsch. [News3LV]
  • Questions about defendants' mental capacity in death penalty cases. [RJ]

76 comments:

  1. I can't believe that Kerr actually said "Mr. Graham voluntarily relinquished his law license, yet the bar has been aggressively prosecuting a case where the end goal has already been achieved.". Of course the bar is prosecuting the case. The end goal is not simply to get Graham disbarred, the goal is to make sure the NV Supreme Court issues an order confirming that Graham can never even re-apply in Nevada.

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  2. $13 million (if accurate) represents a mighty big barn door to close after the horse has gotten out. The honor system works until it doesn't, and then we are looking at some pathetic GoFundMe campaign that will probably wind up raising five grand or something. It seems to me there ought to be some kind of threshold amount in trust ($1 million maybe?) beyond which we don't just take someone's word that all is OK. Maybe specific bond/insurance requirements, two lawyers signing checks, periodic audits by independent Bar-approved CPA's, etc. You won't ever prevent all fraud of course, but these numbers are staggering, and the amount of harm he has caused to innocent people will likely turn out to be beyond measure.

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    1. Maybe a recovery fund to compensate individual victims of misappropriated trust funds? Fund comes from dues paid by all lawyers. Good lawyers paying for the acts of bad lawyers. Like the residential recovery fund for contractors.

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    2. The remarks by 10:18 upset me because they are 100% accurate. That commentator is a real downer by being unflinchingly candid, and totally accurate, when indicating most of the 13 million will never be recouped, and that the GoFundMe account is a real lame substitute to address such grievous, far-reaching fraud. People who tell the truth as directly and accurately as 10:18 can be somewhat depressing. It's heart-breaking to think what has happened to these victims, and that any redress will be lame and de minimis in amount.

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    3. Yes, the genius Wolfson is still deciding if he will prosecute. Wolfson, you are a botard.

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    4. Graham is praying that this stays at the State level. If the Feds get involved, he dies in prison.

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    5. It won't stay at the State level. There are five matters to consider: State Bar, Criminal (State or DA - maybe FBI), IRS (tax evasion), Bankruptcy and Divorce Court.

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    6. LVMPD/Wolfson will be a walk in the park for Graham. Its the Mail Fraud/Wire Fraud federal charges that would mean Graham dies in jail. Jeanne Winkler went to jail; Barry Levinson, Nancy Quon and David Amesbury ended up dead.

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    7. And check your Federal Sentencing Charts and Loss Tables. $13 Million in intended loss gets a long time all by itself. For example, fraud (7) + $13M (20) + 5 or more victims (4) + Sophisticated Means (2) + Organizer (4) would yield Graham to have 37 points on the Sentencing Chart. That would be 210-262 months or 17.5 years.

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    8. 13 million was loss for only approximately half of his clients in Nevada audited so far as reported by RJ etc.. Bet there is 50 million plus counting other states he had offices in.

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    9. He had a practice in St. George Utah for a short time that essentially was left with one very part-time attorney working remotely. He opened a practice in Fort Collins, CO around 2011 - 2012 (thereabouts). Wife essentially operated that office. Graham operated Vegas office. This is far too early to make any guesstimates how far this reaches - especially the actual amounts - but no doubt it will grow beyond $13million.

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  3. Obviously we don't have all the details yet, but something just seems off about this story...

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  4. It's probably not a situation where Graham ran off with millions and sacked it away in Switzerland. He probably just ended up in a Ponzi scheme where he was using his clients' funds to pay the operating expenses of his firm. No less of a crime of course. My guess is that his own pride got the best of him and he chose to steal rather than just admit defeat years ago and close up shop.

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    1. This is my impression as well. But $13mm is a hell of a lot of money and it makes me wonder why this didn't get noticed by a client long ago. If I failed to distribute even $5,000 to one of my PI clients, I'd fully expect the bar to be knocking on my door.

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    2. If he was paying off the squeaky wheel clients with what was effectively other clients' money, then the clawbacks are really going to suck.

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    3. put him and his law firm in bankruptcy!

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    4. I think involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy is probably the way it's going to end up going. At least it could recover something for those affected, even if it isn't a lot of it. If he paid the squeaky wheel, then the non-squeaky wheels still deserve to be paid an equal percentage.

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  5. I think the GoFundMe account is a waste of time. I agree with @10:18a that it may generate some small amount of money, but I'm not sure you're going to see people with substantial funds donate towards reimbursing a group of crime victims for $13Million (if that's even the final number - I suspect it'll be higher.)

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    1. It really sucks that this shitbag is making the rest of the legal community here look bad and I commend Cassady for at least making an attempt to repair that damage. But there's no way he'll get more than $10k for that campaign without some kind of sob story about a widow with cancer who will no longer get the treatment she needs because of this.

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    2. $13 million is just the beginning. It's a futile attempt to recoup anything significant. And then each of the "victims" will end up with .50 cents - what a slap in the face irregardless of the intent.

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  6. Doesn't the state bar already take money from us for this purpose?

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    1. I think it is called the Client Security Fund, or something like that, and my guess is that it would compensate pennies on the dollar for something of this magnitude.

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  7. I would like to start a go fund account for new bar counsel, who is clueless.

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    1. WHAT ABOUT THE EMPLOYEES?

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    2. What about his wife/partner??

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    3. His wife/partner benefited directly from his theft. She went on all the vacations and lived in the big houses - and she knew what was going on.

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  8. Less than a week after learning about Graham abandoning his practice and disappearing, the State Bar got court approval for taking control of his practice, filed a disciplinary complaint and filed an emergency petition to get him suspended, which was granted on Friday. That doesn't sound like clueless.

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    1. More will be revealed about Bar Complaints that went unanswered that presaged this development

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    2. Indeed!!!! No question!!!

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  9. 12:44, thank you, Stan Hunterton. Your office is still clueless. You will harass attorneys over a missing penny from a trust account, but Graham and others like him happened and happen.

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    1. Kim Farmer is in charge. She runs the bar, including discipline staff. There's been an absolute failure leadership. #draintheswamp

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    2. Kim Farmer is a filthy backstabbing and conniving bitch. You keep thinking the Supreme Court is going to catch on that she is at the heart of the problems over there. However she is not running Stan. Stan was hired with the blessing of the Supremes to try to make everything look "tough" because of the mistaken impression that David Clark had been too easy. Now its not merely corrupt but incompetent.

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  10. How lovely that this law firm set up an UNREALISTIC "gofundme" account for the poor clients, beneficiaries mostly, who should have benefited from their deceased love one. WHAT ABOUT THE EMPLOYEES WHO GOT SCREWED??? And by the way - FACT: the BAR knew about this a LONG LONG LONG TIME AGO!!!

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    1. Can you substantiate this "FACT"? Or are we just going to have to take your word for it?

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    2. Believe what you want to believe - but take it from someone who has been around Graham's block for a damn long time - I came to know too much and suspected things for years, as did clients.

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    3. So do we know whether any clients brought their concerns to the State Bar before the shit hit the fan? Did you have enough information to report this scum before it was too late?

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    4. For at least 2-3 years, clients had suspicions, employee(s) had suspicions, and information was shared with licensed "persons" who had a duty to report said intel with the bar.

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    5. Whoever is posting on here seems to have a lot of inside information. Guessing 12:20 is/was the employee of Graham that turned him in. Saying that employee(s) and licensed persons (assume they mean lawyers) had suspicions about Graham tapping the IOLTA account is a serious accusation, like career ending. If it turns out to be false then we might find out just how "anonymous" you can be on this blog. Tainting all of the former employee(s) with knowledge of IOLTA mismanagement makes all of them unemployable and tends to build a grudge.

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    6. 12:56 apparently has a grudge.

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    7. false accusations? HA!

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    8. I think we are pretty far past the "false" part of this. Think the SBN's allegations that there was supposed to be $13MM and now there is low 6-figures pretty much speaks to the fact that either (1) Graham was tapping his IOLTA Account; (2) his bookkeeper (alleged to by MIL) was tapping the IOLTA and Graham failed to supervise or (3) Graham was the subject of the largest Bank Theft I have ever heard of (at which point his failure to keep proceeds below FDIC Insurance levels would represent misfeasance).

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    9. It's #1 and #3.

      The MIL handled all kinds of things, and knew ALL the problems.

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  11. My firm received a phone call from one of his employees looking for work.

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    1. His employees will be informal victims of this. Fair or not, they are now probably radioactive to potential employers. Assuming they are not culpable, that's really just another tragedy in sociopath Rob Graham's wake.

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    2. EXACTLY!!! Can you say "having to start all over?" Totally screwed!

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    3. More like pathological liar and master manipulator.

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  12. I guess there's a stop work order on Michael J Harker's door that was posted today. Anyone know anything?

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    1. Didn't Harker used to work with Boggess, Wilde and Graham?

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    2. Yes. Boggess & Harker. But it was always a loose association. They all did their own work.

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  13. How would looking at mere bank statements allow the State Bar to know that the trust account should have had $13 million? Has the Bar somehow gained access to the law practice management system? Wouldn't all of this information be subject to attorney-client privilege? How does the Bar and now the public know so much?

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    1. Under SCR 118, the Bar can take over your practice, so i'm not sure AC privilege would bar them from reviewing all the records. Plus, in probate/trust practice there are inventories and accountings filed with the court. It wouldn't be very complicated to put this number together, but could be a little tedious.

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    2. I suspect Graham came to the Bar with a prepackaged set of facts and indicated that he was ceasing the practice of law, yes there are millions missing, here is a copy of the QuickBooks and Account Statements where all of the accounts were. My reading of the tea leaves is that Graham (through Preston Kerr) delivered himself to the Bar. This is probably why so much is known so fast.

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    3. How does a lawyer/law firm go through 13 million of client's trust money? Was his practice a ponzi scheme which required that he continually borrow from the trust account? But 13 million! How much was his advertising budget, rent, and payroll. How does that add up to 13 million? I think this will bring to an end the "gravy train" trust and estate practice.

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    4. Graham did not go to the bar prior to his abrupt closure. It was prompted by other circumstances. The Bar moved quickly. The bar was able to get documents from the bank immediately (i.e. remaining balances, etc.) Discussions with employees, other attorneys, and even clients gave them initial figures to work from.

      BTW: Addiction to advertising. High rent office. Operating a business without any budget constraints. Absolutely ZERO budgets ever. Kinda like wanting to have a champagne wedding, but you only have money for Pabst Blue Ribbon. $13 million is nothing given the overhead - it snowballed over the years.

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    5. Reliable source tells me that police investigators/state bar are watching any and every action on graham's computers, electronic files.

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    6. State Bar has many powers. Wire taps and electronic surveillance is not amongst them. FBI/Treasury Agents, now they have the unchecked power to be able to do that.

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    7. Graham is making Hemo, Gordon, and Jeff Silver look like Santie Claus.

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  14. Will his malpractice insurance (assuming he paid the premiums) cover any of this, or will coverage be denied based on "intentional acts?" His limits are most likely $1 million so they would probably just interplead.

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  15. For the good of humanity, the State Bar should cancel its annual meeting this year and give the victims of this fraud the the funds that the Bar would have spent on providing a vacation to Bar staff, judges, and the Board of Governors.

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    1. Good one! Ha! Oh wait. You're serious?

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  16. What? Another shitbag degenerate worthless piece of scum practicing Las Vegas attorney has stolen money from their clients? NO WAY? Can't be a holy man of the "Smith Cross" and illustrious BYU school of honor code law can it be?
    Why YES! It is!
    Another example of the worthless and most inept, gobshite society of practicing counsel in the western hemisphere!
    You Vegas attorneys can really find no bottom to the depth of douchery and outright stupidity with which you surround yourselves with!
    That's ok! You can all go drink, gamble, and pimp pay your fucking worthless lives away every single day of the year!
    I just love watching you all self destruct from my beautiful office on the beach in somewhere SOCAL and beyond the stench of the rotten colon bag dump of a place you live and work in! You are all a bunch of disgraced rejects!

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    1. 5:04 PM voted for Trump and is doing his part to Make America Great Again!

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    2. I voted for Trump and I am the one that said "Stay Classy".

      Besides, 504 said he's from SoCal, a safe haven for Libtards. I doubt he voted for Trump.

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  17. This is an example of why the public and the media despise and distrust the legal profession. Rob Graham, and the lost millions, attracts significant media coverage(which is understandable), but there is no media coverage of last Friday's Pro Bono Luncheon which honored hundreds of lawyers for their tireless efforts in thousands of pro bono cases. Graham is juicy news, but the Pro Bono attorneys is considered boring non-news because it is altruistic. Altruism, and good deeds, are considered boring by media outlets, and the public is not interested in reading or hearing about such good deeds. So, on account of this distorted priority system(wherein the media and the public only seem interested in the really negative aspects and most vile individuals in our profession, while showing no interest in paying any emphasis to all the noble effort undertaken by members of the Bar), that helps explain the very low esteem our profession is generally held in.

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    1. Well, that and John Grisham novels.

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    2. Excellent fucking point. Attorneys give and give and get no recognition. It is truly a shame. None of this excuses what Graham is accused of doing. But if your Trust Account bleeds, it leads. Good Deeds aren't media needs.

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    3. Yes, but Dirty Deeds are done dirt cheap!

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  18. http://lasvegassun.com/news/2011/apr/03/former-employees-sue-state-bar-nevada-over-alleged/

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  19. "The lawsuit goes on to charge that at the time Farmer forced Eichman to resign, the admissions department was grading the February 2010 bar exams and because of Eichman's departure, "errors were made during the grading which caused persons who had not actually passed the exam to be admitted to the Bar.""

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  20. If you want to view an excellent history of "the bitchfight," I might recommend checking out the revision history of Rob Graham's wiki page.

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  21. Catch it quickly because Wikipedia is taking it down.

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