The odds in Las Vegas increasingly show that lawyers may be convicted on federal charges.
Some 23 lawyers, who work in Las Vegas or some other nearby communities, between 2008 and 2014, were convicted on federal charges. That is about 0.3 percent of the total number of some 8,000 attorneys working in the state, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Most of these charges stem from allegations of tax evasion, bank fraud and mortgage fraud, according to news reports.
These break down to four convictions between 2008 and 2010, and 19 convictions between 2011 and 2013.
“There’s been a significant uptick,” David Clark, chief counsel for the State Bar of Nevada, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “It’s a combination of economic realities and the increased vigilance on the part of federal prosecutors to go after lawyers.”
“Although we cannot speculate as to the reason for the rise in numbers,” Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said in a statement to the WSJ, “we can say that it is embarrassing and sad when lawyers violate the very laws they have taken an oath to uphold.”
Thomas Pitaro, a Nevada criminal defense attorney, also speculated that lawyers getting into trouble is “systematic of other problems—drugs, alcohol, gambling and living above their means,” the Review-Journal reported.
One lawyer, Randolph Goldberg, who practiced bankruptcy law, and pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 2013 and is now serving a 1½-year sentence in federal prison. In addition, Paul Wommer, a defense lawyer and former prosecutor, was convicted of tax evasion in 2013, and is serving a prison sentence of over three years. There were other lawyers, too, who got into trouble on federal charges related to the takeover of Las Vegas-region homeowner associations. They include David Amesbury, Jeanne Winkler, Barry Levinson and Brian Jones, according to the Review-Journal.
There is also a district court case against Brian Bloomfield, a defense attorney, who pleaded guilty to felony charges last year. It related to fraud investigation involving courthouse counseling, the newspaper added. The newspaper pointed out that Bloomfield is still representing clients over the past six months while he awaits a sentence on the charges. In addition, the Nevada State Bar can “temporarily suspend” a lawyer licensed to practice in the state upon a “final judgment of conviction.
Clark wants a more detailed explanation of the rules, which let the State Bar “to seek a suspension after a guilty plea or jury conviction,” the Review-Journal reported.
“In the past this hasn’t been so much of a problem because there hasn’t been a long disconnect between a guilty plea and a sentencing,” Clark told the newspaper. “But lately, we’ve been seeing a greater delay.”
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