THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
1n the Matter of R. Dean
opinion No. 24977
Submitted June 28, 1999 - Filed July 26, 1999
Wilburn Brewer, Jr., of Columbia, for respondent.
Attorney General Charles M. Condon and Assistant
Deputy Attorney General J. Emory Smith, Jr., both
of Columbia, for the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
PER CURIAM: In this attorney disciplinary matter,
respondent and Disciplinary Counsel have entered into an agreement under
Rule 21, RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR. In the agreement, respondent admits
misconduct and consents to an indefinite suspension from the practice of law,
retroactive to the date of his most recent interim suspension.1
suspension as of February 19, 1998. See In the Matter of Welch, 330 S.C. 7,
496 S.E.2d 855 (1998). On September 22, 1997, this Court imposed on
respondent a 90-day definite suspension for his failure to file state tax
return, retroactive to July 8, 1997, the date he was placed on interim
suspension for that matter. See In the Matter of Welch, 327 S.C. 305, 491
Since 1992, respondent failed to supervise an employee who
engaged in a check kiting scheme which involved trust and title accounts.
Respondent alleges that he neither knew of nor participated in the scheme.
Nevertheless, respondent would have discovered the check kiting had he
exercised proper supervision over his employee.
As a result of the check kiting scheme, Beach First National
Bank (Beach First) lost approximately $625,000.00. On or about January 29,.
1998, respondent executed a promissory note, pledging to repay $504,630.99
of the bank's losses. To secure the note, respondent executed a mortgage on
his home in favor of Beach First. Beach First has since accepted a deed in
lieu of foreclosure.
In addition, respondent owes Land Bank LLC $72,628.72 for
client funds that were deposited into a bank account frozen because of the
check kiting. Respondent admits that he owes the above monies because of
his failure to supervise the employee.
Due to problems in his accounts which resulted from the kiting,
respondent did not have the funds to pay title insurance premiums in the
amount of $12,244.95 to Old Republic National Title Insurance Company.
Respondent had received these premiums from loan closing funds.
In a separate matter, Steve Brasington retained respondent to
pursue a collection matter. Respondent, however, failed to communicate
with his client as well as he should have.
During the Brasington litigation, an associate in respondent's
firm arranged for a court reporter, Brenda Babb, to transcribe a hearing.
Despite numerous contacts from Babb, neither respondent nor the associate
paid her bill. Respondent gave Babb a note, but he still owes the bill of
While under interim suspension, respondent corresponded with
another lawyer-using "Welch Law Firm" letterhead-regarding a case
pending against respondent. Although respondent maintains that this use of
letterhead was an oversight, he admits that it was inappropriate. He also
contends that any other use of his letterhead during the interim suspension,
if at all, was inadvertent.
Respondent admits the above misconduct. By his actions, we
find that respondent violated several Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule
407, SCACR, including Rule 1.4(a) (a lawyer shall keep a client reasonably
informed about the status of a matter and comply promptly with reasonable
requests for information); Rule 1.15 (a lawyer must deliver funds promptly to
a client or third party which the client or third party is entitled to receive; a
lawyer must render promptly a full accounting regarding property of a client
or third party); Rule 5.3 (a lawyer having direct supervisory authority over a
nonlawyer shall make reasonable efforts to ensure that the person's conduct
is compatible with the professional obligations of the lawyer); Rule 8.4(a) (it
is professional misconduct for a lawyer to violate the Rules of Professional
Conduct or to do so through the acts of another); and Rule 8.4(e) (it is
professional misconduct for a lawyer to engage in conduct that is prejudicial
to the administration of justice).
Respondent also has violated Rule 7(a)(5), RLDE, Rule 413,
SCACR (engaging in conduct tending to bring the legal profession into
disrepute or demonstrating an unfitness to practice law). Finally,
respondent's failure to discover the check kiting scheme resulted from
actions which violated Rule 417, SCACR (a lawyer must maintain records for
all trust accounts).
In our opinion, respondent's misconduct warrants an indefinite
suspension from the practice of law. Accordingly, respondent is indefinitely
suspended, retroactive to February 19, 1998, the date of his interim
Additionally, respondent shall pay the costs of this disciplinary
proceeding, including $109.45 witness fee and travel, copying, transcripts
and court reporter costs of the Commission on Lawyer Conduct, the Office of
Disciplinary Counsel, and the Office of the Attorney General. Moreover,
respondent shall not apply for readmission until he has made restitution to
Beach First National Bank, Land Bank LLC, Old Republic National Title
Insurance Company, and Brenda Babb. Finally, respondent shall pay any
other monies owed by him, his firm or related businesses.
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, RLDE, Rule 413, SCACR.