Syracuse area lawyers received two black eyes this weekend. The Syracuse Post Standard reports that a Syracuse bankruptcy lawyer, Christopher Chadick, was convicted of defrauding many of his clients. He was found guilty of one of the oldest switch-and-bate tricks in the book — taking a customer’s money up front and then failing to deliver the product. In his case, he took retainer fees to file bankruptcy petitions and then didn’t do the work and didn’t return the money, either.
In a separate case, a Baldwinsville lawyer, David Pelland, was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for conspiring to commit mail fraud. The facts are someone complicated, so I won’t go into them here. What struck me about this case, though, was that this is Pellard’s second felony conviction — he was convicted in 1994 for concealment of bankruptcy assets. I guess some folks never learn.
As a fellow lawyer, I take these stories to heart. Lawyers — especially personal injury lawyers like myself — already suffer from a negative public image rivaled only by used car salesmen and politicians. (A letter directed to the editor of a local newspaper from an insurance industry professional not long ago referred to us as “bottom feeders”.) More bad publicity for lawyers is not needed.