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From the Winter 2019 Journal

NOTE: More than 29,000 people are eligible to practice law in North Carolina. Some share the same or similar names. All discipline reports may be checked on the State Bar’s website at ncbar.gov/dhcorders.

DISBARMENTS

Sarah Jane Brinson of Clinton was disbarred by the Wake County Superior Court. Brinson pled guilty to violating Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv), a felony, by encouraging and inducing an alien to reside in the United States, knowing and with reckless disregard of the fact that such residency was illegal.

George L. Collins of Jacksonville surrendered his license and was disbarred by the Disciplinary Hearing Commission. Collins wrote a will making himself executor of his client’s estate, charged the estate $750 per hour, misrepresented the services he would provide, embezzled, did not properly maintain and disburse fiduciary funds, committed perjury, made a false statement of material fact to a tribunal, and made a false representation to the Grievance Committee.

Erica Erickson of Pisgah Forest committed notary fraud on multiple occasions, made misrepresentations to a court, and misled unrepresented parties. She was disbarred by the DHC.

John Hanzel of Cornelius misappropriated entrusted funds. He was disbarred by the DHC.

Gary Leigh of Shelby misappropriated entrusted funds, structured banking transactions to avoid IRS reporting, and neglected two clients’ personal injury cases. He was disbarred by the DHC.

Steven P. MacGilvray of Raleigh surrendered his license and was disbarred by the DHC. MacGilvray stole a wallet containing $1600 from the security screening area of the Wake County courthouse. He pled guilty to misdemeanor larceny, but acknowledged that he committed felony larceny. 

Clinton Moore of Charlotte neglected and did not communicate with clients, collected excessive fees, engaged in conduct involving deceit and misrepresentation, and obtained property by false pretenses. He was disbarred by the DHC. 

Holly M. Owen of Florida surrendered her law license and was disbarred by the Wake County Superior Court. Owen admitted that she misappropriated entrusted funds totaling at least $3,248.50. 

Marshall lawyer David R. Payne surrendered his law license and was disbarred by the State Bar Council. Payne pled guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 1014, a felony. He knowingly made false statements for the purpose of influencing the Bank of Asheville, an institution with accounts insured by the FDIC, in connection with a loan. 

SUSPENSIONS & STAYED SUSPENSIONS

Phillip H. Hayes of Point Harbor was convicted of felony possession of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, in Currituck County Superior Court. Hayes agreed to apply the purchase price to reduce a balance owed to him for legal fees. He was suspended by the DHC for five years. After serving four years of active suspension, Hayes may apply for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with numerous conditions. 

Kenneth B. Holmes of Statesville mismanaged and unknowingly misappropriated entrusted funds. Holmes also borrowed money from a client. He was suspended by the DHC for five years. After serving two years of active suspension, Holmes may apply for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with numerous conditions. 

Susan M. Lynch of Raeford represented both the buyer and the seller in multiple real estate transactions. Lynch did not communicate with her clients; did not disclose a conflict of interest; did not obtain written informed consent to the conflict; did not exercise independent judgment and render candid advice to her clients; made false statements; engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation; and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. The DHC suspended her for five years. After serving 18 months of active suspension, Lynch may apply for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with numerous conditions.

High Point lawyer Robert R. Schoch made misrepresentations to the court; engaged in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation; engaged in conduct intended to disrupt a tribunal; used means that had no substantial purpose other than to embarrass and burden third persons; and engaged in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. He was suspended by the DHC for four years. After serving two years of active suspension, Schoch may apply for a stay of the balance upon showing compliance with numerous conditions.

Brook M. Webster of Yadkinville was convicted of secret peeping and trespassing on the Wake Forest University campus after he used a mirror to look at female students under desks in the WFU library. He was suspended by the DHC for two years. The suspension is stayed for two years upon Webster’s compliance with numerous conditions.

INTERIM SUSPENSIONS

The chair of the DHC entered an order of interim suspension of the law license of Charlotte lawyer Daniel Chappell Flint. In October 2018, Flint was found guilty by a jury in California of violating Title 49, U.S.C. §§ 46314(a) and (b)(2), a felony. He entered a secured area of an airport carrying a pouch containing approximately $148,145 that had not been screened by the TSA, falsely claiming that it was a diplomatic courier pouch, and presenting documents purporting to support the false claim of diplomatic status. Flint was sentenced to 14 months incarceration.

CENSURES

Matthew Carl Coxe of Jacksonville received three censures from the Grievance Committee. In each case, Coxe did not communicate with his court-appointed client, neglected his client’s case, and did not respond to the Grievance Committee. 

Michael DeMayo of Charlotte made an overpayment to a client, then sent a letter to her entitled “Overpayment and Fraud” stating that failure to return the overpayment by a named date “will result in our being forced to swear out a warrant for theft and conversion. This is very serious and it is a crime.” DeMayo was censured by the DHC. 

Mark Farbman of Charlotte was censured by the Grievance Committee. In October 2014, Farbman undertook to represent a client in a personal injury case. When he received settlement funds in March 2016, Farbman paid himself a fee and reimbursed advanced costs, but did not deliver funds to which the client was entitled, telling his client’s attorney-in-fact that he must retain the funds pending receipt of a Medicare lien demand. He took no action to resolve a Medicare lien. His client died in 2017. In April 2018, Farbman still had not complied with repeated requests to deliver the funds to new counsel retained by his client’s estate. 

The Grievance Committee censured Patrice Featherstone of Monroe. Featherstone allowed an out-of-state company that is not registered to practice law in North Carolina to use her name as the attorney of record in the preparation of 88 deeds. Featherstone did not provide any meaningful legal work in connection with the deeds. She refused to communicate with a seller to correct an error in the legal description of a deed. Featherstone had the same arrangement with a prior company which used her name on approximately 450 deeds.

REPRIMANDS

Glenn Barfield of Goldsboro was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee for engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice, improperly seeking an ex parte order without notice to opposing counsel, making a misleading statement to an opposing party, and having direct communication with a represented party. 

George C. Bell of Huntersville was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. He obtained an order changing his client’s probation from supervised to unsupervised by misrepresenting the client’s probation status to the court. 

Greensboro lawyer Anthony P. Donato was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. In 2015, Donato’s staff followed altered wiring instructions submitted by a fraudster, resulting in the fraudster’s theft of entrusted funds. In 2019, while representing a different client, Donato again did not properly supervise his staff. As a result, his staff again followed altered wiring instructions submitted by a fraudster, again resulting in the fraudster’s theft of entrusted funds. 

Ronald Garber of Raleigh was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee for engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice by leaving a series of obscene phone messages for a courthouse official.

Thomas Goolsby of Wilmington was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. Goolsby did not act with diligence in representing his client, did not communicate adequately with his client, and did not take steps to protect his client’s interests upon termination of the representation. 

Melissa S. Gott of Wilmington was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. She did not ensure she had collected and disbursed closing funds in accordance with the lender’s instructions despite repeated communications from the mortgage broker and lender alerting her to an issue and asking her to confirm numbers before disbursing. She also violated several trust accounting rules. The Grievance Committee found multiple mitigating circumstances. 

Franz Holscher of Washington was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. He represented a minor in a claim related to a March 2013 bus accident. His client contended that as a result of the accident she could not engage in physical activities. In response to opposing counsel’s deposition questions, Holscher’s client testified that she had not played basketball since the accident and could not engage in physical activities because she had not been released by her doctor. In response to Holscher’s deposition questions, his client again testified that she had not played basketball since March 2013. In fact, Holscher had coached his client and her teammates in a recreational basketball game in January 2015. Holscher told the Grievance Committee that he had not  remembered that his client played in the January 2015 game. 

The Grievance Committee reprimanded Greensboro attorney Jason Keith. A judge of the Federal District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina found that Keith did not act with diligence, was not familiar with the law, did not keep his clients informed about their cases, and did not give his clients appropriate advice in several criminal cases, but did not impose professional discipline. 

James W. Kirkpatrick of Waynesville did not properly supervise nonlawyer staff. As a result, his staff did not verify wiring instructions before transmitting a seller’s loan payoff. Kirkpatrick also did not immediately report the wire fraud to the State Bar’s Trust Account Compliance Counsel. He was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. 

J. Eric Skager of High Point was reprimanded by the Grievance Committee. He neglected his client’s traffic case, did not promptly tell his client that a failure to appear was entered in her case, and did not respond promptly to the Grievance Committee. 

TRANSFERS TO DISABILITY INACTIVE STATUS

Robert C. Soles Jr. of Tabor City was transferred to disability inactive status by the chair of the Grievance Committee.

REINSTATEMENTS FROM SUSPENSION

In June 2016 the DHC suspended Michael P. Crowe of Winston-Salem for numerous rule violations, including engaging in a conflict of interest, directing an assistant to execute a false notary, engaging in dishonest conduct, and engaging in conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice. The DHC suspended Crowe for three years. He was reinstated by the DHC on October 22, 2019.

Reinstatements from Disbarment

David Shawn Clark of Hickory was disbarred in 2013. Clark had sex with a client, made false statements to a tribunal and to the Grievance Committee, attempted to suborn perjury, was convicted of several criminal charges including communicating threats and obstruction of justice, intentionally disclosed client confidences, and engaged in a conflict of interest. The DHC recommended denial of his petition for reinstatement. Clark appealed to the council. At its October 25 meeting, the council voted to deny his petition for reinstatement.

In 1982, James Walter Smith surrendered his license and was disbarred by the council following his conviction of armed bank robbery. He withdrew his petition for reinstatement after the State Bar took his deposition.

NOTICE OF INTENT TO SEEK REINSTATEMENT

Notice is hereby given that Robin Nicole Knight Krcelic of Charlotte intends to file a petition for reinstatement before the Disciplinary Hearing Commission of The North Carolina State Bar. Knight was disbarred effective January 31, 2005, and surrendered her license on January 26, 2005. The complaint alleged that while operating her law practice, client funds received from real estate closings were misappropriated. Subsequent findings after surrender of her law license and disbarment found that a nonlawyer assistant in her law office embezzled client funds. 

Individuals who wish to note their concurrence with or opposition to the petition for reinstatement should file written notice with the secretary of the North Carolina State Bar, PO Box 25908, Raleigh, NC, 27611, before February 1, 2020 (60 days after publication). 

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