Georgia Supreme Court Justice David E. Nahmias has rapped a former Greenberg Traurig associate and the State Bar of Georgia for recommending that the associate receive a light sanction after he admitted to a half-million-dollar fraud.
On Monday, the high court rejected a voluntary petition filed by ex-Greenberg bankruptcy and foreclosure associate Michael J.C. Shaw. Shaw had requested a six-to-12-months retroactive suspension after admitting that he performed title examinations, skip traces and other investigative services under two fake identities, billing the firm for them, and collecting approximately $493,000 between 2003 and 2009.
Shaw is fortunate not to be incarcerated in a state or federal prison, wrote Nahmias in a concurrence, joined by Presiding Justice George Carley.
Nahmias said he found it troubling that Shaw and, even worse, the State Bar apparently believe that such a short 'break' from practicing law is appropriate discipline for his extended, extensive, and serious misconduct, notwithstanding the factors he presents in mitigation.
Those mitigating factors, according to the court record, include difficulties in Shaw's personal life and his restitution of $526,922 to his former firm.
Shaw's attorney, Johannes S. Kingma, said his client is remorseful, adding that his client has not been charged with a crime and plans to work with the Bar to resolve the issue.
Paula J. Frederick, the Bar's general counsel, said, "I guess we'll ask for an increased level of discipline."
A Greenberg spokeswoman, in an e-mail, said that when the firm learned of Shaw's actions, it terminated Shaw and reported his actions to the Bar.