Bad Lawyers

Greedy Ft Lauderdale Attorney Kept Clients’ Settlements
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steal money

Summary:  A former attorney from Fort Lauderdale has been charged with keeping the settlement money from his clients’ cases for his own use.

Detectives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida have arrested a former attorney on grand theft charges. William Hutchinson, 70, has been accused of keeping his clients’ settlement money for himself. He was booked into Broward County Jail on $125,000 bond. Hutchinson is only allowed to post bail once authorities can confirm the money is his own and not from the settlements.

  
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Hutchinson settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $675,000 several years ago. The father of the victim hired another lawyer that went to police to look into why he never received any of the money. The arrest report confirmed that a review of his bank records showed that he “used a substantial portion of the settlement funds well in excess of $100,000 to pay personal and business expenses.”

The investigation details how Hutchinson withdrew money to pay the parents of the wrongful death victim but used money from another settlement to do so. The other settlement was from a personal injury cases against an insurance company. The victim in that case has also never seen any of the settlement money.

He is accused of misappropriating the funds from a third settlement of $100,000 in a personal injury case. The victim received $10,000 but then he kept a third of the settlement as attorney fees before the client had signed off on the case.

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Hutchinson admitted to the shortage of money in a letter to the Florida Bar. He wrote that he was self-reporting a shortage of nearly $272,000 in his trust account. He said, “I apologize and please know that I intend to pay this shortage in full and have placed my home and office building for sale.” He was disbarred due to the first incident of not turning over the settlement money to the parents of the wrongful death suit.

Hutchinson is being defended by David Bogenschutz.



Do you think there should be a change how attorneys can access settlement money to prevent this from happening? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about attorneys being dishonest, read these articles:

Setting Up Another Attorney Will Get You Enemies and May Get You Disbarred

Disbarred Attorney Caught Stealing Again

Disbarred Attorney Embezzles $737K From Milwaukee Law Firm

Photo: flickr.com



 

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