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In re Warren

Supreme Court of South Carolina

June 29, 2016

In the Matter of William Franklin Warren, III, Respondent. Appellate Case No. 2015-002378

          Heard May 17, 201

          Disciplinary Counsel Lesley M. Coggiola and Deputy Disciplinary Counsel Barbara M. Seymour, for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

          William Franklin Warren, III, Respondent, pro se.

          PER CURIAM:

         In this attorney disciplinary matter, Respondent William Franklin Warren, III, admits misconduct including, among other things, misappropriating over $171, 392 held in various trusts for which he served as trustee, converting client funds for his personal use, failing to perform work for which he had been paid, failing to return unearned fees, failing to record deeds and other original documents, and failing to respond to inquiries by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (ODC). ODC filed formal charges against Respondent, which resulted in a hearing before a panel of the Commission on Lawyer Conduct (the Panel). The Panel recommended that Respondent be disbarred, to which Respondent took no exception. In light of the egregious nature of Respondent's misconduct, we disbar Respondent.

          I.

         On December 18, 2013, Respondent was placed on interim suspension by Order of this Court. In re Warren, 406 S.C. 483, 752 S.E.2d 548 (2013). The current proceedings arise from four separate complaints. Respondent failed to answer the formal charges, and by failing to answer, Respondent thus admitted the allegations. Rule 24(a), RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. The factual allegations in the formal charges are summarized below.

         A Misappropriation of Client Funds

         Respondent mismanaged and misappropriated $171, 392 from three trust accounts for which he served as trustee, using the stolen funds to operate his law firm and to support a lifestyle that he could not otherwise afford.[1] We note Respondent is the uncle and godfather of the beneficiaries of the trusts from which he stole money.

         B. Failing to Perform Services

         In three different matters, Respondent undertook representation and accepted over $40, 000 in fees, but failed to perform the services promised or reimburse fees for work not completed. Following Respondent's interim suspension, the attorney appointed to protect Respondent's clients' interests reported being unable to find any operating account or trust account for Respondent's law practice and that there were no funds available to reimburse any monies.

         C. Mishandling of Corporate and Estate Matters

         Respondent collected over $20, 000 in fees to perform estate planning and corporate work for a client; however, Respondent mishandled the estate plan and allowed the client's corporate registration to lapse for seven years, resulting in forfeiture of the client's corporate charter and the client incurring $1, 700 in penalties and more than $13, 000 in attorney's fees paid to different counsel to reinstate the corporate charter and correct the client's estate plan.

         D. Failure to Safeguard Funds

         Respondent prepared a will for a client, and after the client's passing, $18, 000 cash was found in the client's home and delivered to Respondent to hold in trust. Respondent converted those funds, and none of the funds ...


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