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In re Wilson

Supreme Court of Louisiana

June 5, 2017

IN RE: GRETA L. WILSON

         ATTORNEY DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDING

          PER CURIAM

         This disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against respondent, Greta L. Wilson, an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana but currently inactive.[1]

         FORMAL CHARGES

         15-DB-041

         In May 2013, respondent filed suit on behalf of Lawrence Gates, Jr., without his consent or authorization, regarding funds recovered from the sale of property located in New Orleans. After the suit was filed, respondent received a check in the amount of $20, 141. On May 21, 2013, respondent affixed Mr. Gates' signature to the check and deposited it into her client trust account. Upon learning of this, Mr. Gates retained attorney Herbert A. Cade. In January 2014, Mr. Cade sent respondent a demand letter requesting that he issue a cashier's check made payable to Mr. Gates in the aforementioned amount. Respondent complied with this request in February 2014. Prior to that time, however, Mr. Gates had received no funds from respondent.

          In January 2014, Mr. Cade filed a disciplinary complaint against respondent regarding these events. In response to the complaint, respondent indicated that Mr. Gates had closed his file in the matter because he was satisfied with her response and compliance with his demand. In a supplementary response to the complaint, respondent described a personal illness and her father's terminal illness, both of which she claimed contributed to the delay in forwarding the funds to Mr. Gates.

         In August 2014, respondent gave a sworn statement to the ODC in which she acknowledged receiving the funds from the court registry and depositing the funds in her trust account. Respondent claimed that she was entitled to one-third of the $20, 141 ($6, 713.67). However, the funds in her account dipped below $13, 427.34 on numerous occasions between the date of deposit and the date of her issuance of the cashier's check to Mr. Gates. Respondent was unable to provide a copy of her contract with Mr. Gates and the trust account records reflect that the refund did not come from her trust account.

         The ODC alleged respondent's misconduct violated the following provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct: Rules 1.15 (safekeeping property of clients or third persons), 1.16 (obligations upon termination of the representation), 3.3 (false statement of material fact or law to a tribunal), 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct), 8.4(c) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation), and 8.4(d) (engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).

         15-DB-058

         On January 8, 2014, respondent filed an ex parte motion for order to enroll as counsel of record in the matter of New Orleans Redevelopment Authority v. Harry Lee Pittman, et al., No. 2009-2899, Div. "M, " Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans. In the pleading, respondent indicated that she was retained as counsel by Mr. Pittman for the sole purpose of withdrawing funds deposited in connection with the matter. This was followed by an ex parte motion for order to withdraw funds from the registry of the court. In the pleading, respondent again identified herself as counsel for Mr. Pittman.

         In connection with the filings, the court ordered disbursement of a check in the amount of $32, 959.14 (together with interest) payable to Mr. Pittman and respondent. On February 18, 2014, the clerk issued a check in the amount of $33, 220.81 payable to Mr. Pittman and respondent. On March 11, 2014, the check was negotiated, bearing the purported endorsements of Mr. Pittman and respondent.

         In reality, Mr. Pittman had never hired or even met respondent. Due to physical limitations, which existed at the time of the issuance of the check, Mr. Pittman would not have been physically able to sign his name to endorse the check. Upon learning of respondent's actions, Mr. Pittman enlisted the assistance of attorney Edwin R. Murray, who attempted to obtain information from respondent relative to this matter.

         Respondent provided Mr. Murray with a copy of a contract for services executed by Zealous Pittman, the brother of Mr. Pittman. The contract identifies Zealous as having power of attorney over Mr. Pittman; however, no such power of attorney existed or was in effect at that time. No proceeds from the monies obtained by ...


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