A Charleston attorney was disbarred, accused of pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in settlement claims meant to be paid to a medical provider, according to court records.
The order against Michael Anthony Walker, a personal injury attorney, was issued Wednesday morning by the S.C. Supreme Court. Walker repeatedly failed to pay a medical provider with the proceeds from settlements and kept the money, according to the order. Walker is accused of misleading his clients to believe he'd paid the medical provider, the order stated.
Walker could not be reached for comment. The phone number listed in the S.C. Bar Association's member directory was for another law firm. A representative from that firm said Walker was not affiliated with their firm and only used the office. Walker's profile also indicates he graduated from USC School of Law in 1976.
The medical provider, not identified in the disciplinary case records, was only described as having numerous health care professionals and several offices.
The medical provider discovered the problem in 2009 but did not report Walker, who promised to repay the provider what he owed, according to the order. At the time, Walker admitted to owing the provider $353,000, the amount he misappropriated, the document stated. Walker never repaid any of the more than $300,000 he owed, according to the disciplinary documents.
Then in 2010, the medical provider treated a client of Walker's in an incident that led to a personal injury suit. The medical provider issued a lien against the settlement proceeds, according to court records. The client has not been identified in court records.
In 2011, Walker's office advised the medical provider the case had been dropped, the documents stated.
The medical provider sent a bill for the treatment to a collection agency. When Walker's client found out, he or she reached out to the medical provider and told them his or her case had reached a settlement and that Walker had said he'd paid them, court documents stated.
The collection agency later provided a letter to the medical provider from Walker stating the bill had been paid, according to the order. Walker had also attached a proof of payment, a photocopy of the front and back of his cancelled trust account check, documents stated.
Not convinced the money had been paid, the medical provider filed a complaint against Walker.
Walker later admitted he didn't pay the medical provider and that he misappropriated the $1,880 and that the check image he'd provided to serve as proof of payment, he'd fabricated, state supreme court records state.
During the disciplinary investigation, Walker paid the $1,880 to the provider.
Walker was suspended by the S.C. Supreme Court in September and became the subject of an investigation by the Commission on Lawyer Conduct.
Walker provided misleading documents to the commission, according to the disciplinary documents.
His reports and bank statements, which he had agreed to submit to the commission, were incomplete and included fake outstanding deposits.
Reach Natalie Caula Hauff at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.