JEFFERSON CITY – Macon attorney Richard L. Winkie was disbarred following a Nov. 20 Missouri Supreme Court order regarding allegations he converted client funds, mishandled his trust accounts and knowingly deceived clients.
The high court also ordered Winkie to pay $2,000 to the advisory committee fund in addition to all costs in the matter.
Allegations against Winkie, in solo practice in Macon since 2009, stem from his representation of two couples in a real estate transaction and another client in a breach of contract case, according to Winkie's brief and that of the chief disciplinary counsel filed with the high court. The clients filed complaints with the chief disciplinary counsel after irregularities turned up in Winkie's operation of client trust accounts.
An audit of the two accounts found issues that included insufficient documentation for cash withdrawals, payments to Winkie's employee and wife from the trust account, trust account funds used for personal and office expenses and deposits into the trust account from Winkie’s wife and his tenant. Unearned fees and personal funds also were found in the operating account, and the operating account periodically was overdrawn.
"Winkie's misuse of his trust account resulted in an untold number of instances of commingling and misappropriation," the chief disciplinary counsel's brief said.
A disciplinary hearing panel later determined Winkie to have committed 16 professional conduct code violations and recommended he be disbarred.
In his brief, Winkie did not dispute the allegations but said he should be placed on probation or stayed suspension with probation. Winkie said he had little prior experience managing a trust account but has since made a good faith effort to make restitution to his clients with interest, adding he did not charge them all or the full measure of potential legal fees, and he has been cooperative during the proceedings, according to his brief.
Winkie had no prior record of discipline in Missouri, according to his brief.
"Winkie has requested either probation or stayed suspension with mentoring to enable him to continue to serve the populations he serves but also to receive guidance he has not had the previous benefit of receiving," his brief said.