Fake clients, fake bills lead to real disbarment

 Attorney says he panicked

By Kristi Tousignant
The Daily Record Newswire

 

BALTIMORE — A Montgomery County lawyer has been disbarred for creating fictional clients and fake bills to avoid a pay cut.

Ronald Marc Levin was disbarred immediately by the Court of Appeals March 7, the day after his hearing.

Levin told the state’s top court he was ashamed of his lack of earnings after high expectations had been set for him at his law firm.

“My embarrassment and anxiety turned to panic and horror since there was so much hope for me to come in and build that office,” Levin told the Court of Appeals. “I’ve never been in that type of situation in more than 20 years of my practice.”

Levin, who was admitted to the bar in 1992, told the Court of Appeals that he had no criminal intent because he always intended to repay the firm.

“What you’re portraying is, ‘I sent these things in. I knew I was panicked. No harm, foul because I paid the money back,’” Judge Lynne A. Battaglia said to Levin. “Is that your story here?”

Though Levin argued he should only face a public reprimand, James N. Gaither, who argued on behalf of the Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland, recommended immediate disbarment.

“A continuous, deliberate, systematic string of events that involved not only misrepresentation, but the creation of fictitious documents, fraudulent documents has to be prejudicial to the administration of justice,” Gaither told the court.

Levin was hired by Joseph, Greenwald & Laake P.A. in November 2010 with a starting salary of $200,000.

Levin had practiced in bankruptcy law his entire career, but represented primarily creditors. At the time he moved to Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, though, he had to switch to representing debtors, he told the Court of Appeals.

Under his employment contract, Levin agreed that the income he created for the firm would be double his salary.

Levin told the Court of Appeals that when he started, partners repeatedly told him he would be a building block for the firm.

While there, Levin created false client bills and fictitious clients in order to prove he was performing well enough to be earning his salary.

Levin would meet with the firm’s assistant managing director, David M. Bulitt, and lie about his number of cases, the number of bills he had sent and his payment expectations. Levin even created false documents to go with these fictitious clients.

Levin left the firm in October 2011 after finding a job at another firm. After he left, Bulitt discovered the deficit in Levin’s earnings.

“It was surprising to me and the firm to find he had been dishonest with us and others,” Bulitt said Thursday. “Yes, it was disappointing.”

Bulitt, who said he has known Levin since childhood, called the situation “sad.”

“This is a guy who I knew and my family knew and the thought he had stolen from us and others was particularly upsetting, to say the least,” Bulitt said.

The firm determined Levin owed it $151,191, which he repaid by December 2011.

After Bulitt approached him, Levin reported himself to the Attorney Grievance Commission.

Levin went before a hearing judge in Montgomery County Circuit Court last April for an evidentiary hearing.

During the hearing, Levin said he had no intention of depriving the firm of assets and always planned to repay it.

Judge Terrence J. McGann found that Levin did not intend to commit a criminal act.

McGann found that while Levin committed fraud, he did not impair the public’s confidence in the profession since his misconduct was private and remained within the firm.

The Court of Appeals issued an order immediately disbarring Levin, promising an explanation to later.

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