The Nevada Supreme Court issued an order Thursday temporarily suspending the license of politically active attorney Barry Levinson until professional disciplinary proceedings against him are resolved.
In March, the State Bar of Nevada filed a petition with the Supreme Court accusing Levinson of misappropriating tens of thousands of dollars in client funds and then trying to cover up his actions.
The high court said in its two-page order that the evidence it received from the State Bar “demonstrates that Levinson poses a substantial threat of serious harm to the public.”
The evidence also includes allegations Levinson commingled funds, failed to pay lienholders and settlements to clients, and “showed dishonesty” to the bar and other parties, the order said.
Levinson’s firm handles bankruptcy, foreclosure and personal injury cases.
State Bar Counsel David Clark said his organization, which regulates lawyers, already has filed one complaint against Levinson that includes grievances from five people and expects to file another complaint airing seven more grievances. The bar is investigating 72 additional grievances, Clark said.
The disciplinary proceedings could result in an additional suspension or disbarment for the veteran lawyer.
Levinson, who also has been targeted in the high-profile federal investigation into fraud and corruption at homeowners associations across the valley, denied wrongdoing.
“I’ll come out of this meritoriously,” he said, declining further comment.
He has contended that his troubles with the State Bar stemmed from a former bookkeeper who embezzled money from him.
Levinson, who was admitted to the bar in December 1998, is listed on the secretary of state’s website as the secretary for the conservative Tea Party of Nevada. But Levinson has said he is no longer that active with the movement.
In its March petition, the State Bar said Levinson committed the “cardinal sin for lawyers by misappropriating money that he was entrusted with for safekeeping.”
Bar officials said at the time that they didn’t have a handle on the amount of money misappropriated, other than it is probably tens of thousands of dollars.
“In short, Levinson has repeatedly misappropriated funds and has compounded his misconduct by repeatedly lying to clients and the State Bar regarding his delay in disbursing funds to the appropriate parties,” the bar said in its court papers.
While under temporary suspension, the Supreme Court said in Thursday’s order, Levinson can’t accept new cases and must stop representing his current clients within 15 days.
All proceeds Levinson receives from his law practice after the Supreme Court order must be deposited into a trust account.
Levinson can’t withdraw any money from the account without the approval of a judge or the bar’s counsel,
Levinson also can’t withdraw money from any of his existing law practice accounts without permission from a judge or the bar counsel.
Contact Jeff German at email@example.com or 702-380-8135.