Attorney Grievance v. Blair

Attorney Grievance Commission of Maryland v. Walter Lloyd Blair Misc. Docket AG No. 83, September Term, 2009 ATTORNEY DISCIPLINE – SANCTIONS – DISBARMENT – Court of Appeals disbarred lawyer who concocted and executed scheme to launder drug money that he obtained from client, engaged in witness tampering by advising client not to tell Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about drug money, provided to Internal Revenue Service agents false information about drug money, and willfully failed to file federal income tax returns for two years. Such conduct violated Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct 8.4(b) (Criminal Act), 8.4(c) (Dishonesty, Fraud, Deceit, or Misrepresentation), and 8.4(d) (Conduct That Is Prejudicial to Administration of Justice). Argued: May 31, 2018 IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF MARYLAND Misc. Docket AG No. 83 September Term, 2009 ______________________________________ ATTORNEY GRIEVANCE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND v. WALTER LLOYD BLAIR ______________________________________ Greene Adkins Watts Getty Harrell, Jr. Glenn T. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned) Battaglia, Lynne A. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned) Raker, Irma S. (Senior Judge, Specially Assigned) JJ. ______________________________________ Opinion by Watts, J. Adkins, Harrell and Raker, JJ., concur and dissent. ______________________________________ Filed: July 13, 2018 2018-07-13 11:19-04:00 This attorney discipline proceeding involves a lawyer who, in the words of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, “concocted and executed a scheme to launder drug proceeds that he obtained from a client.” United States v. Blair, 661 F.3d 755, 759 (4th Cir. 2011) (per curiam), cert. denied, 567 U.S. 905 (2012). In its opinion disposing of the first appeal in the lawyer’s criminal case, the Fourth Circuit set forth the facts underlying the lawyer’s convictions for money laundering, witness tampering, making a false statement, and willful failure to file a federal income tax return—all of which the Fourth Circuit affirmed. See Blair, 661 F.3d at 759. According to the Fourth Circuit, Elizabeth Nicely Simpson, a prospective client, told Walter Lloyd Blair, Respondent, a member of the Bar of Maryland, that she possessed a safe that contained drug money belonging to Anthony Rankine, who had operated a large marijuana distribution ring near Richmond, Virginia. See id. at 759-60. Among other things, Blair invented a lie regarding drug money being from a legitimate source, and told Simpson to tell the lie if anyone inquired about the drug money. See id. at 760-61. Without being asked to do so, Blair caused a corporation to be created through which Simpson could buy and sell real estate with the drug money. See id. at 761. After agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“the FBI”) contacted Simpson to interview her, Blair told Simpson not to tell the FBI agents about the drug money, and to instead talk to the agents only about a car that Simpson had purchased for Rankine. See id. at 762. Blair told Simpson that, if the money came up, she should use the lie that he had made up regarding the money being from a legitimate source. See id. In a federal court in Virginia, Blair applied ...

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