Suspended lawyer racks up more than $US100,000 in fees

By Justin Whealing|12 June 2012

A lawyer restricted to an annual salary of $US60,000 has caused outrage, by not only billing more than _x000D_ $US110,000 for seven months work, but by sending a handwritten invoice.

A lawyer restricted to an annual salary of $US60,000 has caused outrage, by not only billing more than $US110,000 for seven months work, but by sending a handwritten invoice.

The El Paso Times reports that local lawyer Teresa Garcia was hired by the El Paso Emergency Services District (ESD) No. 2 three months after being suspended by the state bar for the non-payment of dues and occupational taxes.

Under the terms of her contract in late 2009, Garcia was allowed to charge $US200 to $US250 per hour, while in April this year that contract was renegotiated to cap her salary at $US60,000.

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In the last seven months, the El Paso Times reports that Garcia has billed the ESD for more than $US110,500.

“Oh my God,” said ESD No. 2 board president Carlos Sandoval when approached by a reporter from the El Paso Times. “No wonder she gave us her billing statements on yellow legal pads and in handwriting rather than documenting it on a computer.”

To further muddy the waters, Sandoval is under a cloud himself after the issue of Garcia’s contract and licence arose following a “personal matter” involving Sandoval that was discussed at an ESD board meeting behind closed doors.

Sandoval believes the allegations being made against him are a form of retaliation by Garcia after having her salary cut, something that Garcia denies.

Folklaw is intrigued by the allegations of overcharging, ‘personal matters’ being heard behind closed doors, tit-for tat allegations of impropriety and the scandal of sending a handwritten invoice through in this digital age in El Paso, which sits on the US side of the Texan border with Mexico.

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However, not everyone is complaining.

“As far as the job she has done for us, she has been more than satisfactory,” said ESD No. 2 vice president Bill Adler with regard to Garcia’s work.

If the client doesn’t complain, what’s the problem?

Suspended lawyer racks up more than $US100,000 in fees
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