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24977 - In the Matter of R. Dean Welch

Shearouse Adv. Sh. No. 25
S.E. 2d

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA

In The Supreme Court

1n the Matter of R. Dean

Welch, Respondent.

opinion No. 24977

Submitted June 28, 1999 - Filed July 26, 1999

INDEFINITE SUSPENSION

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


1Regarding the instant matter, respondent was placed on interim

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

p.25


IN THE MATTER OF WELCH





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

$2,045.40.





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


S.E.2d 252 (1997).

p.26


IN THE MATTER OF WELCH





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

suspension.





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.

p.27


IN THE MATTER OF WELCH





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.





INDEFINITE SUSPENSION.



p.28