Nevada bar moves to 86 troubled lawyer

Barry Levinson’s days as a lawyer in Nevada are numbered.

The State Bar of Nevada, which has received more complaints about the suspended Levinson than any other attorney, moved Friday to take away his license to practice law.

The organization, which regulates lawyers, filed a petition asking the Nevada Supreme Court to permanently disbar Levinson.

The action follows Levinson’s guilty plea in federal court earlier in the week to a series of felony charges, including one involving the scheme to take over valley homeowners associations.

He also pleaded guilty to trying to evade $28,211 taxes from the Internal Revenue Service and embezzling more than $243,000 from his clients.

Levinson, 47, agreed to disbarment as part of his plea deal with federal prosecutors.

In a sworn affidavit attached to the State Bar’s petition, Levinson acknowledged professional misconduct and consented to the action being taken against him.

His plea deal was part of an informal agreement Levinson struck with federal and county prosecutors to resolve all of his criminal charges. He also is expected to plead guilty in Clark County District Court to the theft of more than $1 million from his clients.

The State Bar’s client protection fund, so far, has paid $309,730 to clients victimized by Levinson, according to the bar’s petition.

Federal prosecutors plan to argue for at least two years in prison for Levinson at his May sentencing.

Levinson was indicted last year on conspiracy and fraud charges with Leon Benzer, the accused mastermind of the HOA takeover scheme, and nine other defendants. The scheme occurred between 2003 and 2009.

Benzer and his co-conspirators rigged elections to pack HOA boards with members who handed out legal and construction defect contracts worth millions of dollars to them at the expense of the homeowners, according to prosecutors.

The Supreme Court suspended Levinson’s license in September 2012 amid the State Bar’s own embezzlement investigation.

Following a Las Vegas Review-Journal story on the suspension, the State Bar received more than 100 complaints from clients against Levinson, the bar said in its petition Friday.

In his federal plea agreement, Levinson admitted misappropriating the more than $243,000 in client funds, mostly obtained from personal injury settlements, between March 2010 and September 2011. He has agreed to make restitution in those cases.

The district attorney’s office charged him in the $1 million theft last month. At the time, State Bar Counsel David Clark said his group had received 128 grievances against Levinson, the most of any Nevada lawyer.

Levinson was accused in a criminal complaint of stealing the $1 million from personal injury settlements between January 2007 and July 2012. He is facing four felony theft counts.