Las Vegas lawyer facing felony charges disbarred


Nearly four years after the Nevada Supreme Court suspended Las Vegas lawyer Jeanne Winkler from practicing law, the court has disbarred her.

"This matter stemmed from financial difficulties Winkler experienced, resulting in her misappropriating approximately $233,000 from her client trust account and borrowing $115,000 from a client," according to the disbarment order filed Wednesday.

Winkler, 44, was arrested in February on theft and embezzlement charges. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 12 in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Winkler is charged with seven counts of theft and two counts of embezzlement involving a victim who is 60 or older. Both charges are felonies.

The criminal complaint alleges the crimes occurred between March 2006 and November 2008.

The state Supreme Court suspended Winkler in March 2008, and the Clark County district attorney's office filed a felony bad-check charge against her in April 2008. Winkler was accused of bouncing four checks, but the charge was dismissed after she paid about $7,000 in restitution.

The Las Vegas police criminal intelligence section began investigating the theft allegations against Winkler in March 2009.

According to the disbarment order, Winkler's troubles began when an employee of her husband's business, Direct Electric, embezzled about $350,000.

"Keeping Direct Electric afloat caused a financial strain on Winkler's law office," the document said. "Eventually, both businesses began to crumble."

In December 2006, according to the order, a Family Court judicial officer presented Winkler with an investment opportunity. During Winkler's disciplinary hearing last year, that officer was identified as Family Court Judge Steven Jones.

"Although Winkler initially invested her own money in the endeavor, she eventually withdrew money from her client trust account to fund the investment," according to the order. "Ultimately, she invested $500,000, of which $233,000 was client trust fund money. The investment yielded nothing."

Around this time, Winkler borrowed $115,000 from client Debra Hood.

Most of Winkler's former clients have been repaid by the State Bar of Nevada's Client Security Fund.

Following the March 2010 disciplinary hearing, a panel of the Southern Nevada Disciplinary Board recommended disbarment.

Winkler received her Nevada law license in 1999. She primarily handled cases in Family Court.

The state Supreme Court also took action Wednesday against two other lawyers, James Sitter and James Parsa.

Justices ordered a four-year suspension for Sitter, 66, who received his Nevada law license in 1977.

The court ruled that the suspension began when it temporarily suspended Sitter in March 2009. Sitter, who lives in Arizona but practiced law in Las Vegas, was accused of misappropriating trust account funds.

Justices temporarily suspended Parsa, 46, pending the resolution of formal disciplinary proceedings against him.

According to the order, Parsa was convicted in 2001 in California of two misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual intercourse. In 2009, Parsa resigned from the California Bar while disciplinary proceedings were pending. He is accused of failing to report that information to the State Bar of Nevada.

Parsa has been licensed in Nevada since 2000, but State Bar of Nevada records list a California address for him.

Contact reporter Carri Geer Thevenot at cgeer@reviewjournal.com or 702-384-8710.

 

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