Howell’s former attorney, Stephen LaCommare, was disbarred after the Michigan Prosecutors Disciplinary Board considered a misconduct case in which he had previously been suspended.
The nine-member committee, at the request of the grievance administrator, conducted a review on June 15 of the lawyer’s two-year suspension. LaCommare did not file a Response to the Review Application, nor did he appear at the Review Hearing. Seven of the board members supported increasing the disbarment penalty, two recused themselves.
LaCommare did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
The panel found that LaCommare failed to represent its clients in a timely manner and keep them informed of the status of their legal claims. He also failed to protect the interests of his clients and did not reimburse the prepayment of legal fees.
The panel also found that he misappropriated funds from the interest on the lawyers’ trust accounts, using them for his personal expenses. The two counts are the “most serious allegations,” according to a Michigan Attorney Discipline Board document.
“Therefore, even when a lawyer has had a long and unblemished career, the absence of a disciplinary record will not mitigate the sanction when the offense is very serious, such as, for example, the conversion of client funds” , the council wrote in its decision. filed July 7.
The disbarment was retroactive to November 16, 2021, when LaCommare originally received a temporary suspension. LaCommare also failed to appear for a hearing on the complaint on November 1 of that year.
In April this year, the panel extended LaCommare’s suspension to two years, retroactive to November 16, 2021. The panel said “the Respondent committed professional misconduct, as alleged in a formal complaint at six counts, in his representation of four separate clients in their various legal matters; abused his IOLTA account; failed to respond in a timely manner to a request for investigation and completely failed to respond to two requests for further investigation.”
The panel also ordered him to pay $4,250 in restitution — $750 to one client and $3,500 to another — and an additional $2,262 in costs. He was also valued at $97 for the case review in June. The Disciplinary Board documents do not indicate whether he paid any fees.
READ MORE: Missing money, missing court dates: Howell’s lawyer suspended by Barristers’ Disciplinary Board
LaCommare was accused of defrauding several Livingston County residents and businesses by taking their money and failing to provide legal services in 2018 and 2019.
The Kizer law firm, where LaCommare worked, also fell victim to his fraudulent activity as LaCommare embezzled funds from the firm.
LaCommare graduated from Michigan State University-Detroit College of Law in 1995. He then worked as an assistant prosecutor in the Livingston County District Attorney’s Office until 1999, when he moved to Boston to join a law firm. civil lawyers.
He returned to Michigan and started working for the Kizer law firm in 2002.
Sophia Lada is a journalist at the Livingston Daily. Contact her at email@example.com or 517.377.1065. Follow her on Twitter @sophia_lada.