In December 2012, Gomer Thomas Williams, a former Spector Gadon & Rosen associate, was disbarred on consent. In late January, he was indicted on a single count of wire fraud, based on allegations he defrauded his trust and estates clients of approximately $503,361. The amounts defrauded from his clients included $281,341 in bills to two clients for work not actually done, and $222,020 in checks written to Williams from several trust and estate accounts. The wire fraud charge arose when he used the defrauded funds to pay his mortgage. On Monday, Williams pleaded guilty to the wire fraud charge. A sentencing hearing is set for June 23.
Theft of client funds is obviously fraud. Less obviously, overbilling can also be fraud. Overbilling can also constitute a violation of Rules of Professional Conduct 1.5 (fees) and 8.4(c) (misconduct). Lawyers who are aware of overbilling in their firm could potentially be vicariously liable for the overbilling, or even face discipline under Rule of Professional Conduct 5.1 (responsibilities of supervisory attorneys).–Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire (H.T. Jeffrey McCarron, Esquire)