State Bar Association to Reimburse Client Losses
(Oklahoma City – Dec. 21, 2015) More than two dozen Oklahomans who lost money to deceased or dishonest former attorneys will be reimbursed by the Oklahoma Bar Association. The association announced its Clients’ Security Fund will pay more than $100,000 in claims to 23 clients of 15 former attorneys whose dishonest acts led to the losses.
OBA President David Poarch of Norman said the fund is a remedy of last resort for clients who cannot recover money from other sources, such as insurance, a bonding company or from the attorney involved.
“Claims result when an attorney misappropriates client funds or property and is disbarred or dies before work is performed or the loss recovered,” said Poarch. “These dishonest former attorneys who took client funds have been stripped of their licenses to practice law. Reimbursing their clients’ losses is one way the bar can reaffirm the integrity of the profession and our commitment to protecting the public.”
The OBA’s Clients’ Security Fund Committee annually reviews client claims and makes recommendations to the OBA Board of Governors on the merits of the claims. Attorney Micheal Salem of Norman, who serves as committee chairperson, said claims are typically paid for former attorneys who have become unstable as a result of a personal crisis, substance abuse or illness.
“As a step toward being more proactive in our efforts to protect the public, additional proposals are being considered that would, it is hoped, have a preventive impact against claims to the fund,” Salem said.
Poarch said all active Oklahoma lawyers contribute to the fund through a portion of their annual bar dues, and more than $2.5 million in reimbursements has been paid to clients since the fund was created in 1965.
Former or deceased attorneys for whom the OBA will be paying claims, the individuals to be compensated for their losses and the reimbursement amounts are:
Former attorney Ronald Cox, Hugo; client Chad Wilkerson, Rattan, $39,114.95.
Former attorney Frank B. Kirk Jr., Oklahoma City; Rubye D. Raigans, Oklahoma City, $643.92.
Former attorney Joel E. Scott III, Nichols Hills; clients Ephraim N. Ezeokeke, Oklahoma City, $214.64; and Mary J. Kralovansky, Plymouth, Indiana, $1,395.16.
Former attorney Darick C. Morton, Tulsa; clients Claudia L. Williamson, Tulsa, $429.28; and Gerard Young, Las Vegas, Nevada, $2,483.39.
Deceased attorney George W. Smith, Coweta; clients Kerri Cole, Coweta, $450.74; and Antoinette Joice, Coweta, $426.71.
Former attorney Gale E. McArthur II, Ponca City; client Thomas M. McKenzie, Tonkawa, $643.92.
Former attorney Rohit Sharma, Tulsa; clients Ikenna Nkwonta, Bethany, $1,502.48; and Ivan Ali Otero, Ada, $1,073.20.
Former attorney Rhonda V. Noland, Norman; client Brandon Travis Anderson, Norman, $39,271.95.
Deceased attorney Kenneth J. Kelly, Guymon; clients Lauren Taylor, Guymon, $751.24; and Charles Smith, Booker, Texas, $429.28.
Former attorney Gloyd McCoy, Noble; client Daniel G. Mosley, Granite, $3,198.14.
Former attorney Craig Key, Chandler; clients Ronald M. Watson, Meeker, $42.93; and Danny L. Crary, Chandler, $1,159.06.
Former attorney Joel E. Scott III, Oklahoma City; Robert Arkeketa, Oklahoma City, $429.28.
Former attorney Steven Allen Hart, Tulsa; John B. Lindsay, Porter, $1,717.12.
Former attorney William F. Raynolds, Tulsa; clients Kevin Anthony Corley, Broken Arrow, $1,073.20; and Brenda Wright, Glenpool, $1,717.12.
Former attorney Ken Kerr, Oklahoma City; clients Pat Blevins, Grove, $558.07; Paul D. Seagraves, Grove, $772.71; and Nancy Goodman, Jay, $579.53.
Deceased attorney Larry Wagener, Wagoner; Lupe Diaz, Tulsa, $321.96.
More information about the Clients’ Security Fund can be found on the OBA’s website at www.okbar.org.
The 17,600-member Oklahoma Bar Association, headquartered in Oklahoma City, was created by the Oklahoma Supreme Court to advance the administration of justice and to foster and maintain learning, integrity, competence, public service and high standards of conduct among Oklahoma's legal community.