A Beaumont lawyer who served jail time for forging court orders and faced an attorney discipline case for billing and collecting fees for fabricated work has resigned his law license.
Kenneth L. “Leigh” Parker Jr.’s resignation as a lawyer resolves an attorney discipline case connected with Parker’s representation of a Beaumont surgeon in five cases related to a business divorce and closure of a surgical practice. Parker was paid more than $150,000 for his work.
Parker pleaded guilty in August 2017 to tampering with governmental documents, a state jail felony. His sentence was 180 days in state jail, five years of probation and restitution of $150,000 to the doctor.
His sentence was reduced to 90 days of straight time, said Marcus McLellan, public information officer for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. Parker served the sentence at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility and was released on Dec. 27, 2017, said McLellan.
Parker scanned the signatures of two district judges and put the forged signatures onto legal documents, according to a Beaumont Enterprise article about Parker’s indictment. He forged the documents so that he could misrepresent the outcome of the case, which had been dismissed.
No one answered a call to Parker’s law office, nor a cellphone listed in public records.
In December 2017, Parker filed a motion with the Texas Supreme Court to resign as a lawyer, and the high court accepted his resignation on Jan. 23. The Commission for Lawyer Discipline filed a response to Parker’s motion, which contains much of the background of the case.
One underlying 2014 lawsuit pitted the doctor against a bank that issued the mortgage for the closed surgical practice, the response said. The doctor and his former partner had split the $250,000 business loan, however, the bank got a judgment against the doctor for the full amount. Parker made the doctor think he was negotiating a mortgage payoff. The doctor paid $180,000 to the bank and received a release of lien. Although the doctor thought the matter was resolved, the bank kept demanding more money. The doctor paid an additional $21,000 but refused a subsequent demand for $60,000. Finally, the doctor learned that Parker had forged court documents and also the release of lien. Parker had been fabricating his negotiations with the bank.
Parker also forged court orders and had the doctor pay him for fabricated work in a second matter against another bank, according to the response. The doctor had a $700,000 summary judgment against him and his wages were being garnished to collect it. Parker made the doctor think he won sanctions in the case, and even gave the doctor a fraudulent personal check for nearly $268,000—supposedly it was garnished funds, recovered by the court. Parker told the doctor to attend scheduled hearings, which never even occurred, and would make the doctor wait outside as Parker supposedly met with opposing counsel and the judge.
In another case, the response said that a community hospital in Beaumont terminated the doctor’s employment without cause, and he sued. The doctor’s first attorney withdrew, and the doctor hired Parker to file a new suit because the community hospital had reported him to the Texas Medical Board for being unavailable on call, even though he had given notice. The medical board case was dismissed. The community hospital also reported the doctor to the National Practitioner Data Bank, and Parker filed temporary restraining orders to remove that report. Parker lead the doctor to think he had won monetary damages. Later, the doctor found that Parker had fabricated work on the case and billed him for it.
A fourth matter involved the doctor’s wrongful eviction, said the response, which happened in the wake of his partnership breakup. The doctor’s lawyer withdrew, and he hired Parker to file a new suit. Parker led him to think the case was progressing, when in reality, the case had been dismissed for want of prosecution. However, Parker was still billing and collecting for ongoing activities.
The same pattern of fabricating work and billing for it, lying to the client about the case, and forging court orders was also present in a final case that Parker handled for the doctor.
The response noted that Parker’s conduct violated multiple rules in the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. Parker violated rules that required him to hold client funds, separate from his own, in a trust account with safeguards and accounting records; created a duty, when representation was terminated, to surrender client papers and return unearned fees, among other things; prohibited him from committing a serious crime, or any crime that reflected poorly on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness; and barred him from engaging in dishonest, fraudulent, deceitful or misrepresentative conduct.
If Parker is ever reinstated to practice law, he must pay the $150,000 restitution in the criminal case. Also, he must pay $1,000 in attorney fees to the Commission for Lawyer Discipline for the attorney discipline lawsuit it filed against him.
Parker earned his law degree in 1995 from Baylor University School of Law in Waco, and he was licensed to practice law in Texas that same year. He practiced at the Law Offices of Leigh Parker in Beaumont. Parker faced public discipline once in the past, as well, serving a fully probated suspension from Aug. 1, 2013, to Oct. 31, 2013, according to his State Bar of Texas attorney profile.
Claire Mock, spokeswoman for the State Bar of Texas Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.
Angela Morris is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @AmorrisReports.
Correction: An editing error in an earlier version of this story misstated the cause for Parker’s jail time.