Formerly imprisoned Qld partner struck off
A former equity partner at criminal firm Bosscher Lawyers has been struck from the roll of practitioners in Queensland following two findings of professional misconduct in the wake of his 18-month stint in jail for fraud.
Timothy Vincent Charles Meehan, who was sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment on one count of aggravated fraud and eight counts of fraudulently falsifying records, has been removed from the roll after the state’s Legal Services Commissioner brought two charges of professional misconduct against him.
The charges were that Mr Meehan had engaged in dishonest and reputable conduct and that he had been convicted of a serious offence, for which the LSC submitted he should be struck off.
Mr Meehan “expressly admitted each and every allegation” and did not dispute that his conduct amounted to professional misconduct, and thus the question before the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal was whether the proposed disciplinary orders should be made.
Mr Meehan was convicted in July 2017 for engaging in a fraudulent scheme whereby, in his own words, he encouraged “clients to pay their legal fees in cash. Only portions of those sums paid in cash were deposited into my firm’s trust account. The balance of the cash not deposited into the firms trust account was either kept by me or split with other members of the firm”.
He further said, in his affidavit, that he “caused false documents to be produced and sent to the Crime and Corruption Commission Queensland in an attempt to hide from the CCC the fact that I, or my law firm, had received cash payments from clients that were the subject of the notices to produce”.
“In doing so, I deliberately gave the CCC a false accounting of the legal fees charged to those clients and I accept that such deliberately false information frustrated confiscation proceedings against those clients.”
Mr Meehan served 18 months of his sentence before being paroled in December of last year, with the time spent in pre-sentence custody deemed to be time served in accordance with his sentence.
He sought, however, to remain on the roll of practitioners, espousing a desire to “make a useful contribution to society” through his experience as a defence lawyer, and highlighting that he has “suffered the inevitable and public shame entailed by my offending”.
“I can say that the day I handed my practising certificate to the [Queensland Law Society] was the day I took the decision to turn my life around and put dishonesty behind me. If I should be allowed to remain on the roll of legal practitioners, I will seek suitable support, and put in place appropriate mentoring, to enable the QLS to have confidence in me returning to practice.”
However, QCAT said that the nature and extent of Mr Meehan’s “dishonest wrongdoing” was such as to provide “instant demonstration of unfitness” to practice again.
“This tribunal has concluded that nothing has been put before it, apart from the respondent’s own depositions, to which only marginal weight can be given, which would gainsay a present conclusion that the probability is that the respondent is permanently unfit to practice,” it held.
Accordingly, orders were made to remove Mr Meehan’s name from the roll, and he was ordered to pay costs.