Lawyer accused of conflict in fraud case

A former investment company owner convicted of fraud is accusing his lawyer of providing ineffective representation leading to his conviction and imprisonment. The man was convicted of defrauding investors in Florida and across the country of over $200 million. At the time, he headed a firm called Fair Finance, which prosecutors allege he converted into a form of Ponzi scheme, with new money going to pay existing investors and fund the man's lifestyle. In 2012, he was convicted of 12 counts of wire fraud related to his company.

The man is saying that the $1 million he paid his lawyer to represent him in defending the wire fraud charges would have been better spent paying witnesses. He accuses the lawyer of taking the fee despite knowing that witnesses could have been paid with the funds, creating a conflict of interest. He accuses both his trial lawyer and his appellate lawyer of providing him with inadequate assistance of counsel.Some of his complaints have been rejected by a judge, including claims that the lawyers failed to interview some experts and should have done more to suppress search warrants and wiretap evidence.

However, the judge allowed some of the man's claims to proceed, including one centering on how the litigation was financed. The man gave the lawyer $1 million to cover all litigation expenses, including witness fees, travel funds and expert costs, as well as the lawyer's fee. However, the lawyer was responsible for deciding how the money would be disbursed, and additional litigation expenses would reduce his own fee.

When people face criminal charges, the effectiveness and motivation of a lawyer can be critical to achieving a positive outcome. People who have been harmed by a negligent, conflicted or incompetent lawyer may consult with a professional malpractice attorney about their options to seek accountability.

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