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24688 - In the Matter of C. Lenoir Sturkie

Davis Adv. Sh. No. 26
S.E. 2d

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In The Supreme Court

In the Matter of C. Lenoir

Sturkie, Respondent.

Opinion No. 24688

Submitted July 29, 1997 - Filed September 2, 1997

DISBARRED

C. Lenoir Sturkie, Pro se, of Columbia.

Henry B. Richardson, Jr., Disciplinary Counsel, of

Columbia.

PER CURIAM: In this attorney disciplinary matter,

respondent has admitted the allegations against him and the parties have

entered into an agreement for disbarment. We accept the agreement and

disbar respondent from the practice of law.

Respondent admits that he grossly mismanaged his law office

and financial matters. He failed to adequately supervise his staff to ensure

that client matters and funds were handled properly and efficiently, and

commingled and misappropriated client funds during a five year period.

Additionally, respondent admits that he engaged in a continuous pattern of

using the funds of one client to pay money owed to another client.

Specifically, respondent failed to properly supervise Patricia

Shaw, a paralegal in his office, who misappropriated over $30,000 from a

client and respondent's escrow account. When he discovered Shaw's

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IN THE MATTER OF STURKIE

actions, respondent failed to timely remedy a shortfall on a loan caused by

Shaw's actions.

Respondent misappropriated $99,178.23 of client funds to

further a business relationship with Scott Salter. He also commingled

Salter's funds with his trust account funds.

In addition, $52,250 of client funds from respondent's escrow

accounts were misappropriated by respondent to support a second business

known as Atlantic Media Group. On one occasion, $285,432.82 in client

funds was improperly deposited in an Atlantic Media Group account, but

was subsequently returned to respondent's escrow accounts.

Respondent also placed money he had borrowed in his escrow

account to cover the shortages. During a three year period, fifty-four

checks from respondent's trust accounts were returned for non-sufficient

funds. In addition, there were thirteen overdrafts on the accounts and

twelve incidents of accounts with negative balances.

Finally, respondent's wife, an employee of the law firm,

misappropriated $5,154.75 of client funds from an escrow account. These

funds were used to pay personal debts.

By his actions, respondent has misappropriated client funds for

his own use; failed to promptly deliver funds to clients or third persons who

were entitled to the funds; failed to act with reasonable diligence and

promptness in representing clients by failing to maintain the integrity of

client accounts; failed to render a proper accounting regarding property of

clients or third persons; and failed to make reasonable efforts to ensure

that the conduct of a nonlawyer over whom he had direct supervisory

authority was compatible with the respondent's professional obligations. In

addition, respondent has committed acts reflecting adversely on his honesty,

trustworthiness, and fitness as a lawyer; engaged in conduct involving

moral turpitude; engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, deceit, and

misrepresentation; engaged in conduct that is prejudicial to the

administration of justice; engaged in conduct tending to pollute the

administration of justice or to bring the courts or legal profession into

disrepute; and engaged in conduct demonstrating unfitness to practice law.

Accordingly, we disbar respondent from the practice of law.

Within fifteen days of the date of this opinion, respondent shall file an

affidavit with the Clerk of Court showing that he has complied with Rule

30 of the Rule for Lawyer Disciplinary Enforcement contained in Rule 413,

SCACR. In addition to all other requirements respondent must meet to be

reinstated under Rule 413, SCACR, no petition for reinstatement shall be

accepted until respondent had filed proof that he has made full restitution

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IN THE MATTER OF STURKIE

to all institutions and individuals who have lost money as a result of his

misappropriation or mishandling of trust funds, to include restitution to the

Lawyer's Fund for Client Protection for any payment it may make.

DISBARRED