disciplinary matter arises from formal charges filed by the
Office of Disciplinary Counsel ("ODC") against
respondent, Adam Anthony Abdalla, an attorney licensed to
practice law in Louisiana but currently on interim suspension
pursuant to a joint petition filed by the parties in October
2014. In re: Abdalla, 14-2142 (La. 10/22/14), 149
was formerly employed by the Lafayette law firm of Andrus,
Boudreaux, Landry & Coussan (the "firm"). In
September 2014, the ODC received a complaint alleging that
respondent had converted funds from the firm. Specifically,
the complaint alleged the following facts, to which the
parties herein have stipulated:
1. Respondent wrote three unauthorized checks to himself out
of the client escrow account. The checks were made payable to
Orange Ocean, LLC, a single member LLC with respondent listed
as the sole member, in the amounts of $5, 125, $2, 500, and
$5, 000. These funds were being held in escrow as part of a
commercial transaction on behalf of a client.
2. Respondent wrote two unauthorized checks to himself out of
the client escrow account. The checks were made payable to
Abdalla Enterprises, LLC, a single member LLC with respondent
listed as the sole member, in the amounts of $2, 000 and
$800. These funds were held in escrow pursuant to an Escrow
Agreement, signed by respondent, which stated that the firm
would be compensated $2, 500 by the client for its services.
Although fees were due to the firm, no checks were made
payable to the firm.
3. Respondent wrote an unauthorized check to Belle Realty of
Lafayette, LLC ("Belle") in the amount of $5,
910.86 from the firm's operating account, an account on
which he never had signing authority. Belle is a commercial
real estate company owed by respondent's parents.
Respondent claimed the check was for rent payable to Belle
and written on behalf of a firm client, and that the firm
would be reimbursed by the client through a corresponding
invoice. Respondent never billed any client for the
corresponding amount paid to Belle.
4. A client wrote a $1, 000 check to "Adam -
Boudreaux" as a retainer for legal services. Respondent
endorsed the check and deposited it into his personal
account. Respondent never tendered these funds to the firm,
and the firm continued to provide legal services to the
5. Respondent created fraudulent invoices on fictitious firm
letterhead for two clients for legal services rendered. One
client paid respondent $11, 500 by check made payable to
respondent. Respondent never tendered these funds to
the firm, and the firm continued to provide legal services to
6. Respondent performed legal services for three clients,
including formation of corporate entities and drafting of
resolutions, and instructed the clients to pay him cash
directly for those services. The clients paid respondent cash
in the total amount of $1, 250. Respondent never tendered
these funds to the firm.
7. A client, Blanc Bridal, LLC, paid respondent in cash for
legal services rendered through the firm. Respondent created
a $3, 500 invoice, which he then voided. The firm did not
receive the funds for the legal work performed by respondent.
8. A client, Corey Devan Willis, paid respondent $500 in cash
for legal services. Respondent marked a $500 invoice to Mr.
Willis as paid in full, but he never turned over these funds
to the firm.
September 2015, the ODC filed formal charges against
respondent, alleging that his conduct as set forth above
violated the following provisions of the Rules of
Professional Conduct: Rules 8.4(a) (violation of the Rules of
Professional Conduct), 8.4(b) (commission of a criminal act
that reflects adversely on the lawyer's honesty,
trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer), and 8.4(c) (conduct
involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation).
answered the formal charges, admitting his misconduct and
requesting a hearing in mitigation. He also pointed out that
he had reimbursed the firm for all the funds he had
converted, as well as the expenses incurred by the firm for
attorney's fees and accounting costs.
hearing committee conducted the mitigation hearing in July
2016. Prior to the hearing, the parties entered into a joint
stipulation of facts. The joint stipulation included the
parties' stipulations concerning the specific allegations
of misconduct included in the formal charges, as set forth
above, as well as the following additional stipulations:
1. Respondent has admitted taking the funds and has
reimbursed the firm for all funds that he has converted that
are known to the firm.
2. All funds were taken from the firm and none were taken
from individual clients.
3. Respondent stole the money to support a drug habit as he
routinely used hydrocodone and is addicted to
4. Respondent voluntarily enrolled in Palmetto Addiction
Recovery Center for a ninety-day rehabilitation program after
the complaint was filed with the ODC.
5. Respondent successfully completed the ninety-day program
and enrolled in the Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program
("JLAP") after completing his treatment. Further,
respondent entered into a five-year contract with JLAP.
6. There are no criminal charges pending against respondent.
7. Respondent's misconduct violates Rules 8.4(a), 8.4(b),
and 8.4(c) of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
8. Respondent's actions harmed the firm, the public, and
the legal profession.
9. The aggravating factors present in this matter include a
pattern of misconduct ...