June 2019 Discipline

These lawyers were the subject of Louisiana Supreme Court disciplinary orders or Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board recommendations published during the month of June 2019.

Louisiana Supreme Court

  1. Channing J. Warner. The court suspended the respondent for three years. The respondent neglected a client’s legal matter, failed to communicate with his clients, failed to refund unearned fees, failed to place advanced deposits for costs and expenses into his client trust account, and failed to return his clients’ files upon the termination of the representation. Additionally, the respondent practiced law while ineligible to do so, failed to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation, and issued worthless checks.
  2. Kevin Lovell James. The court suspended the respondent for one year and one day, with all but thirty days deferred. The respondent mismanaged a client trust fund and failed to cooperate with the ODC in its investigation.
  3. Gregory Cook. The court suspended the respondent for six months, with all but thirty days deferred. The respondent undertook a representation with a conflict of interest, continued to practice law after his suspension, and submitted a false affidavit certifying his full compliance with the court’s suspension order.
  4. John C. Alexander. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and publicly reprimanded the respondent. The respondent violated Rule 8.4(d).
  5. Matthew Vance Shelton. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and suspended the respondent for three years, with all but six months deferred. The respondent pleaded no contest to felony possession of a Schedule II CDS and no contest to first offense DWI. 
  6. Lucretia Patrice Pecantte. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and suspended the respondent for two years. The respondent failed to file a tax return and admitted that she engaged in acts that constituted the felony crimes of tax evasion and filing false tax returns. 
  7. Ashton Devan Pardue. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and suspended the respondent for one year. The respondent neglected a legal matter, failed to communicate with a client, and engaged in an improper personal relationship with a current client. 
  8. Victor Roy Laroso, III. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and permanently disbarred the respondent. The respondent was convicted of possession and distribution of child pornography. 
  9. Todd A. Harris. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and suspended the respondent for six months and one day, with all but six months deferred. The respondent was arrested for alcohol-related misconduct on four occasions, three of which involved driving while intoxicated.
  10. Lynden James Burton. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and suspended the respondent for two years. The respondent failed to file a tax return and admitted that he engaged in acts that constituted the felony crimes of tax evasion and filing false tax returns.
  11. Mark G. Simmons. The court revoked the respondent’s probation and made executory his previously-deferred suspension of one year and one day. The respondent failed to submit quarterly audit reports of his client trust account, as required by his probation agreement.
  12. Ernest L. Johnson. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and suspended the respondent for six months, fully deferred. The respondent violated Rules 3.3(a)(1), 3.3(a)(2), 8.4(a), and 8.4(d).
  13. Patrick A. Giraud. The court suspended the respondent for one year and one day, with all but six months deferred. The respondent mishandled a client trust account, resulting in the conversion of client funds, and used funds from the trust account to support his addiction to OxyContin.
  14. Donald C. Douglas, Jr. The court accepted a joint petition for consent discipline and publicly reprimanded the respondent. The respondent violated Rule 8.4(d).
  15. Jack F. Owens, Sr. The court accepted the respondent’s permanent resignation in lieu of discipline. The respondent failed to file federal tax returns on behalf of his law firm and failed to remit funds withheld from his employees’ paychecks to the federal government.

Louisiana Attorney Disciplinary Board

  1. Mark G. Simmons. The board recommended that the court grant the respondent’s motion to revoke probation and make executory the previously-deferred portion of one-year and one-day suspension. The respondent failed to submit trust account audit reports and failed to provide the ODC with the identity of the CPA who was to audit his account per the conditions of his probation.
  2. Carol E. Parker. The board recommended that the court suspend the respondent for six months, with all but thirty days deferred. The respondent violated Rules 3.1, 8.4(a), 8.4(c), and 8.4(d). 
  3. Edward Duane Schertler, II. The board recommended that the court permanently disbar the respondent. The respondent attempted to introduce contraband into a penal institution, illegally possessed stolen items valued at over $500, illegally possessed marijuana, illegally possessed a controlled dangerous substance with a firearm, and illegally possessed a firearm with an obliterated serial number. 

LADB Hearing Committees

  1. Murray Neil Salinas. Hearing Committee #3 noted that because the respondent is already disbarred, no real sanction can be imposed except to recommend that this matter be considered in any future attempt by respondent to get readmited to practice. The respondent failed to file an action for post-conviction relief and let it prescribe after being retained to do so. Additionally, the respondent was retained to defend a client in a partition suit in which he failed to file any pleadings and would not return the fee he received. Further, the respondent was retained to defend a client in a felony distribution case when he was not in good standing to practice. Lastly, the respondent was retained in a criminal matter in which he never filed any pleadings, never made a court appearance, and and failed to return the unearned fee. Additionally, the respondent did not cooperate with the ODC investigation.
  2. John E. Settle, Jr. Hearing Committee #18 concluded that no sanction was appropriate because the respondent’s misconduct caused no actual harm. The respondent was suspended from the practice of law but continued to conduct the business of his title company and act as a landman, which the committee found was not the practice of law.
  3. Ramsey Terry Marcello. Hearing Committee #12 recommended that the court deny the respondent’s petition for readmission. The respondent failed to prove full compliance with the Louisiana Supreme Court’s prior order imposing discipline.
  4. Nicholas Anthony Bellard. Hearing Committee #43 recommended that the court suspend the respondent from the practice of law for three years, pay restitution, refund unearned attorney fees, and pay all costs associated with the disciplinary proceedings. The respondent violated Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.15, 1.16, 3.2, 8.1(c) and 8.4(a). The respondent misused his client trust account which resulted in commingling and conversion. Additionally, the respondent failed to perform any work or to return unearned fees as to two distinct clients.
  5. Jaymeski Pullins-Gorham. Hearing Committee #8 recommended that the court suspend the respondent for six months, fully deferred, subject to the following conditions: (1) regular audits of respondent’s IOLTA account by a CPA; (2) at least six hours of CLE in the area of law office/client trust account management; (3) successful completion of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Trust Accounting Program during the first three months of the probationary period; and (4) refrain from violations of the rules of professional conduct during the probation. The respondent failed to safe-keep the property of clients and third parties that was in his possession, failed to perform reconciliations of trust accounts, and knowingly engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
  6. Casteel D. Durward. Hearing Committee #1 recommended that the court disbar the respondent and order him to pay restitution of all converted funds, with interest. The respondent intentionally converted a total of $360,000 placed with him in trust by a client, used the money for personal purposes, and failed to repay the converted monies. The respondent self-reported his violations and admitted to the same in writing and in a sworn statement to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel.
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