Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert, which will discuss the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court Order disbarring a lawyer after his conviction for defrauding his law firm out of $3.4 million by secretly referring its personal injury clients to outside lawyers for a percentage of the fees that were generated in the matters. The case is Office of Disciplinary Counsel v. Neil I. Mittin, No. 2669. The June 11, 2020 Pennsylvania Supreme Court Order disbarring the lawyer on consent and the lawyer’s Disciplinary Resignation are here: http://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/DisciplinaryBoard/out/187DB2019-Mittin.pdf
The lawyer was admitted to practice in Pennsylvania 1979 and had practiced law at the law firm where he was a named partner for 38 years. The lawyer pled guilty to mail fraud in September 2019 and was sentenced to five years in prison in March 2020. He was alleged to have defrauded law firm out of more than $4 million in legal fees; however, the Court awarded $3.4 million in restitution when he pled guilty to the criminal charges.
The lawyer was alleged to have intercepted numerous personal injury and other legal matters from the law firm and then referred to outside attorneys. The lawyer allegedly hid the scheme from his law firm by making it appear there were no settlements or resolutions and that cases were not viable and then referring the cases to other lawyers, who would represent the clients through settlements or trials, prosecutors said.
If the cases were resolved successfully, the lawyers paid a referral fee between 33% and 40% of the contingency fees and reimbursement for costs incurred by the lawyer’s firm before the cases were referred.
Bottom line: This was a million dollar scheme to defraud a law firm by a member of that same law firm, who had worked there for 38 years and was a named partner. It doesn’t get much more greedy than that.
Stay safe and be careful out there.
Disclaimer: this e-mail is not an advertisement, does not contain any legal advice, and does not create an attorney/client relationship and the comments herein should not be relied upon by anyone who reads it.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire
Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A.
2999 Alt. 19, Suite A
Palm Harbor, Florida
Office (727) 799-1688
Fax (727) 799-1670