Crime

Jean Valjean.JPGJean Valjean once stole a loaf of bread to feed his starving family during a down economy in France. Despite this crime, Valjean is regarded as a hero who stole only when it was absolutely necessary, then devoted his life to helping others and serving God.
I thought of the Les Misérables story when I read a distressing tale on the ABA Journal this morning:

California bar officials are blaming the recession for an increase in lawyers being investigated for pilfering client funds or collecting fees to modify mortgages without doing anything to help.
The State Bar of California is investigating 1,200 loan modification cases and more than 300 lawyers who were involved, the Fresno Bee reports. More lawyers are also being accused of mishandling client funds, according to Carol Langford, a lawyer who defends lawyers accused of ethical wrongdoing. Most of the lawyers under investigation were retired or relatively new to practice, the story says.

Hmm … I just don’t know if “Les Avocats” will be quite as catchy.
Should we feel sorry for California lawyers forced into a life of crime?

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Gerald Ung Gerry Ung Jerry Ung Jerald Ung Temple Law School 3L shooter shooting.jpgOn Monday, we wrote about a shooting in Philadelphia involving a law student, as the accused shooter, and the son of a law firm partner, as the apparent victim. We now have some updates on the situation. Alas, we still have more questions than answers.
Gerald Ung (pictured), 28, is in his final year at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. (Small correction to our last post: he’s a fourth-year student in the night program, not a 3L.) Ung is accused of shooting Edward DiDonato Jr., 23, a recent college graduate and the son of a partner at Fox Rothschild.
First, some (relatively) good news. Edward DiDonato, who was in critical condition immediately after being shot, is hanging in there and making progress (although he’s still critical). According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he underwent a fourth operation yesterday. A Facebook group created to express support for Eddie DiDonato has over 1,800 members.
Second, some of Ung’s friends believe he has been treated unfairly in coverage. What are their concerns?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Temple Law Student Shooter: Questions Abound
Was it self-defense? Was the victim a ‘hero’?

tax headaches tax evasion taxation tax crimes.JPG‘Tis the season for… W-2s. When you get that handy-dandy form from your employer, we suggest that you file it with your federal income tax return — in timely fashion. [FN1]
And don’t forget to file any applicable state and local tax returns, too. Otherwise you could find yourself in deep doo-doo. From the Long Island Press:

Three attorneys, an accountant and a doctor were arrested Tuesday for failing to file a combined total of more than $365,000 in state personal income taxes, Nassau prosecutors said. The arrests were part of a statewide sweep by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance (NYSDTF).

Arresting someone on a failure-to-file charge? Seems a bit extreme. But if the authorities wanted to send a message about how seriously they take tax crimes, they succeeded.

The attorneys who were charged with failure to file a personal income tax return include 47-year-old David Mollon of Great Neck, 50-year-old Kelly Talcott of Sea Cliff and Dennis O’Leary, 57, of Westbury. Facing the same charge is 53-year-old Gerald Gartner of Lawrence, a certified public accountant, and 62-year-old Avelino Rosales of Cedarhurst, a physician.

O’Leary is a personal injury lawyer — res ipsa loquitur. But Mollon and Talcott are (or were) partners at large law firms, places whose names you’d recognize.
Find out which firms, as well as how much Mollon and Talcott earned during the tax years in question, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Lawyers of the Week: A Trio of Tax Suspects”

judge herman_thomas.jpgWe’re taking some trips down memory lane this week at Above the Law. Yesterday we wrote about Peter John, a Lawyer of the Day from 2007.
Today we bring you news about Herman Thomas, a Judge of the Day from 2007. He was accused of improperly paddling prisoners, but was acquitted at trial.
Now he’s exploring new opportunities in the political realm. From WKRG:

Three months after he was found not guilty of paddling and sexually abusing inmates, former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas is running for State Senate.

“I wish to continue my commitment to serve my community that has done so much for me and my family,” Thomas said.

Like acquitting you on charges of spanking male prisoners and trading favorable treatment for sexual favors?
Herman Thomas isn’t the first former judge to go into politics. Over the years, there has been significant movement between the judicial and the legislative branches. (Linda Greenhouse has this nice write-up of the phenomenon.)
But ex-Judge Thomas’s move still seems a bit… random. Could there be another reason he’s running for elected office?

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Peter John Peter Q John PTa Mon Thugs Lawyer.jpgLongtime Above the Law readers will be familiar with Peter “P’Ta Mon” John, aka “The Thugs’ Lawyer.” We named him a Lawyer of the Day back in 2007, for his aggressive advertising campaign touting himself as “The Thug’s Lawyer” (along with the catchy slogan, “No Evidence — No Conviction!”). We mentioned him again in 2008, when he started offering a $500 “Expungement Special” (which perhaps the good Professor Jones availed himself of).
Well, Peter John is back in the news again — and not for positive reasons this time. From the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Peter Q. “P’Ta Mon” John, who advertises himself as “The Thugs Lawyer,” was indicted Thursday on charges that he conspired to have attempted murder charges against two local rap music executives dropped….

An East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury Thursday accused John, 39, 11110 Boardwalk Drive, of conspiring with Moore, Demond Eames and Carter to commit perjury in the civil cases and obstruct justice in the criminal case.

In an interview with ATL, Peter John explained his “thugs’ lawyer” ad by saying, “Look, I am close to the streets.” Did he perhaps get too close to the streets?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Peter ‘P’Ta Mon’ John: Was ‘The Thugs’ Lawyer’ a Bit Too Thuggish?”

Gerald Ung Gerry Ung Jerry Ung Jerald Ung Temple Law School 3L shooter shooting.jpgMany law students these days are angry and frustrated. If the allegations are true, one has resorted to gun violence (and not just against his casebooks). From Philadelphia’s Fox 29:

A Virginia man is in custody after a weekend shooting in front of Fox 29′s studio in Philadelphia that was caught on camera. Temple University grad student Gerald Ung allegedly shot Villanova graduate Ed DiDonato at 4th and Market Streets early Sunday morning.

According to WPVI, the suspected shooter, Gerald Ung (pictured), is a third-year fourth-year law student at Temple’s Beasley School of Law.
UPDATE (1 PM): Temple has confirmed that Ung, 28, is — or “was,” to use the exact language from the Philadelphia Inquirer article — a law student there.
CORRECTION: Ung is not a 3L, as we originally wrote. Rather, he’s a fourth-year law student in Temple’s evening program.
It is unclear what exactly provoked the shooting, although it appears that Ung and DiDonato were engaged in an argument before the incident. You can see this by watching (somewhat grainy) video footage of the altercation over here. One tipster’s reaction:

This happened in my hometown, which I miss less and less these days. And the [alleged] perp lived three blocks from where I used to live. I wonder if having an appreciation of the law and how much it’s going to run over you makes it any more difficult to sit in jail knowing you’ve done something like this.

UPDATE (2 PM): A different perspective on this incident, after the jump.

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john michael farren.jpgA former Bush Administration lawyer has been charged with attempted murder after allegedly strangling and beating his wife, a counsel at Skadden Arps.
John Michael Farren, 57, served as deputy counsel to the president under Fred Fielding in the most recent Bush administration, as general counsel at Xerox, and as Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade under President George H.W. Bush. Since leaving the White House, the UConn law grad returned to Connecticut.
Last night, he made the news there when he allegedly attempted to kill his wife. From the Greenwich Time:

John Michael Farren, 57, of New Canaan, was charged with attempted murder and first-degree strangulation after police received a panic alarm from his home shortly after 10 p.m.
Farren was arraigned in state Superior Court in Norwalk Thursday. He appeared in court with a large bandage on the right side of his neck and has been placed on suicide watch.

According to CBS News, his wife is Mary Margaret Farren, an energy regulation and litigation counsel in Skadden’s D.C. office.

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Las Vegas federal courthouse Lloyd D George federal courthouse.jpgMonday’s shootout at the Lloyd George Courthouse in Las Vegas can be described as tragic, frightening, and now, surreal. Reports are out this morning that the gunman, Johnny Lee Wicks, previously served prison time for killing his brother. The ABA Journal collects the information:

Stories by the Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Memphis Commercial Appeal detail Wicks’ criminal past.
Wicks killed his brother after an argument escalated over whether his motorcycle could outrun his brother’s car, according to the Commercial Appeal account. Wicks had claimed he killed his brother in self defense, although no weapon was found near the body. He was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 55 years in prison. On appeal, the sentence was reduced to 12 to 15 years, and Wicks was paroled after serving six years.

I’m not a huge fan of taking legal advice from the Bible, but surely killing your brother because you’re jealous over his sheep car deserves a harsher penalty than six years.
But we’re not done with Johnny Lee Wicks’s past. More after the jump.

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Las Vegas federal courthouse Lloyd D George federal courthouse.jpgDetails continue to roll in about Johnny Lee Wicks, the shooter during yesterday’s gunfight at the Lloyd George U.S. Courthouse in Las Vegas. Apparently Wicks set fire to his own house before heading to the courthouse. ABC News reports:

The senior citizen who is being blamed for a Las Vegas courthouse shooting that killed a security officer had set his condo on fire in a fit of rage before the attack.
Friends and family told ABC News that Johnny Lee Wicks, 66, was so upset that his monthly Social Security check was being reduced that he set fire to his home in a gated retirement community around 5 a.m. Monday.

Wicks had filed a racial discrimination suit against the Social Security Administration because his benefits were cut. The suit got tossed and, apparently, that is what set him off. Over on True/Slant, Michael Roston hopes that Wicks’s deranged understanding of race in America isn’t used by neocons as a polemic against tolerance:

Of course, I’m still trying to be hopeful that the fact that Wicks was a black man shooting at a federal building won’t also be worked into the kulturkampf by agents of conservative histrionics. Rush Limbaugh is taking a few days off after his brush with the medical system, so he won’t be going on air tomorrow to declare that crimes like this happen only in “Obama’s America.” If anyone else out there was thinking about saying something like that, please, don’t. Let’s just all be thankful that there weren’t any more senseless deaths from this tragedy today.

Hear, hear. Bullets don’t care about skin color. An Above the Law reader who works at the Lloyd George Courthouse provides an eyewitness account of the harrowing minutes during the shooting.
The story after the jump.

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Las Vegas federal courthouse Lloyd D George federal courthouse.jpgA deputy U.S. marshal and a court security officer were shot this morning when a gunman opened fire in the lobby of the Lloyd D. George Federal Courthouse in Las Vegas. The gunman was shot in the head and killed near the courthouse. The identity of the shooter and possible motives for the shooting are not yet known.
UPDATE: Las Vegas Now reports that the court security officer has died. You can check out an amateur video, featuring loud gunshots and the cameraman muttering “holy s**t,” over here. (Gavel bang: commenter.)
If you have additional information — e.g., you were at the courthouse when the shooting took place — feel free to email us. Thanks.
UPDATE: A first-person account appears here.
2 Guards Shot in Las Vegas Federal Building [Associated Press via ABA Journal]

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