St. Louis Record

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

3 principals in St. Louis firm successfully complete probation


By Karen Kidd | Nov 2, 2018

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ST. LOUIS -- Three longtime St. Louis attorneys placed on probation about a year ago after funds were discovered stolen from their client trust account have been reinstated following separate Nov. 1 Missouri Supreme Court orders.

Lamar E. Ottsen Jr., Robert B. Leggatt Jr. and Timothy Belz, all principals at Ottsen, Leggat & Belz, have successfully completed their probationary periods handed down last fall, according the high court's orders. The court ordered their probations terminated following motions for order of successful completion filed by each of the attorneys.

The three also were ordered to pay all costs in the matter.

The high court previously handed down separate orders placing them on probation Oct. 31, 2017, after a Missouri State Bar audit of their trust account revealed a member of the law firm's landlord's cleaning staff misappropriated approximately $22,500.  

The theft reportedly occurred via a series of unauthorized electronic withdrawals from the trust account between August 2014 and March 2015, according to various court documents.

Ottsen was admitted to the bar in Missouri on Sept. 5, 1964, Leggat on April 29, 1972, and Belz on Nov. 10, 1984, according to their profiles at the state bar's website.

All three are signatories on their firm's client trust account, about which their bank notified the state bar's chief disciplinary counsel's office that the trust account was overdrawn in March 2015, according to the similar responses the trio filed with the court. The state bar's investigation found earned fees had been left in the trust account and statements had not been reconciled in about 40 months.

It was the lack of reconciliation that allowed the unauthorized withdrawals to go unnoticed.

The three were charged with failing to timely withdraw earned fees, which resulted in commingling of personal funds and client fund, failing to promptly deliver funds to clients and filing to reconcile their trust account's bank statements.

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Organizations in this Story

Missouri Supreme CourtMissouri BarOttsen, Leggat & Belz LC

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