A former Hartford attorney who is facing criminal larceny charges for allegedly defrauding several clients—including one for more than $200,000—has been placed on interim suspension from the practice of law until further notice.
New Britain Superior Court Judge Joan K. Alexander placed Wayne Anthony Francis, 46, on interim suspension May 30. Alexander also set the attorney’s bond at $2 million, although Francis could be released by paying 10 percent of that amount, or $200,000 in cash.
According to the monthly list of disciplined attorneys recently released for May by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, Francis is believed to have stolen $217,630 from one client and of have taken thousands of dollars from several other clients. According to a May 2 application for interim suspension, submitted by the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, client Shaikh Rakaiyabanu filed one of several complaints against Francis, claiming he stole two checks from her totaling $217,630.
The submitted application says Rakaiyabanu hired Francis to represent her in a real estate purchase of property in Rocky Hill. Rakaiyabanu alleges the closing did not go forward and further alleges she requested the monies be “returned to her on multiple occasions.” Francis, though, the application states, never returned the money he was holding for his client.
In addition, the legal papers claim, other clients also filed grievances against Francis. They include Marco Puerta who hired the attorney to perform a legal evaluation and possible litigation regarding a LLC. Francis was paid $12,500 but, the application states, “did not provide an adequate or proper accounting of the retainer fees paid to him from Mr. Puerta.”
In court, Alexander said she set the bail at $2 million because “the state’s request is reasonable because, while it is not [that Francis' alleged behavior is] violent in terms of murder or other charges that we classically define as violent, the court finds that the danger to the community to unsuspecting individuals does pose a grave risk because financial ruin, in the court’s opinion, is as devastating as other crimes and the court does find that Mr. Francis poses that grave risk, again, to damage people financially.”
In suspending Francis, Alexander told the court “there is an imminent threat of irreparable harm to clients, to the court and to any future clients.”
Francis is being represented by Jeremy Scott Donnelly, an associate with Butler, Norris & Gold in Hartford. Donnelly was not available for comment July 7.
Elizabeth Rowe, assistant bar counsel for the Statewide Grievance Committee, was also not available for comment.