Posted by: Patricia Salkin | December 4, 2016

LA Supreme Court Disbars Attorney Convicted of Racketeering and Taking Bribes for Zoning Permits

This case arose from formal charges filed by the Office of Disciplinary Counsel (“ODC”) against respondent, Arthur Gilmore, Jr., an attorney licensed to practice law in Louisiana but currently on interim suspension based upon his conviction of racketeering. The indictment charged respondent with engaging in a racketeering enterprise whereby he used his office and position as an elected city councilman to extract bribes in the form of cash and other things of value from individuals and organizations having business before the council, in exchange for which respondent took actions favorable to these individuals and organizations. In July 2015, the ODC filed one count of formal charges against respondent, alleging that he violated Supreme Court Rule XIX, § 19 (lawyers convicted of a crime). Respondent, through counsel, answered the formal charges, essentially admitting to his misconduct and asking for a sanction “other than disbarment.” In mitigation, respondent offered that his conviction was based on only two violations, those being a $1,000 campaign contribution and a $207 payment for a constituent’s electric bill.

Here, the court weighed that fact that respondent knowingly and intentionally violated duties owed to the public and to the legal system by engaging in a criminal act while acting in his capacity as an elected official, causing actual harm. The court noted that the baseline sanction for this type of misconduct was disbarment. It found that many aggravating factors were present, included a prior disciplinary record, a dishonest or selfish motive, substantial experience in the practice of law, and illegal conduct. The court weighed that aforementioned against the mitigating factors of full and free disclosure to the disciplinary board and a “cooperative attitude toward the proceedings, character or reputation, imposition of other penalties or sanctions, remorse, and remoteness of the prior disciplinary offense.” After balancing these factors, the court held that temporary, rather than permanent disbarment was an appropriate sanction in this matter.

In re Gilmore, 2016 WL 6125390 (LA 10/19/2016)

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