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A Florence attorney has pleaded guilty to defrauding his clients. U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said Friday that 48-year-old William J. Rivers pleaded guilty to mail fraud.

Authorities began investigating after some of Rivers' clients complained to the South Carolina Bar Association. Between 2006 and 2012, prosecutors say more than 100 of his firms' clients were defrauded of more than $3.3 million.

Authorities say Rivers settled personal injury cases but didn't tell his clients or medical providers about the settlement money, which he kept. Prosecutors say that action left Rivers' clients still owing money for treatments they had received.

Prosecutors say Rivers' law partner committed suicide during the investigation. Rivers faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when he's sentenced.



Lawyers convicted of child pornography charges will automatically be disbarred and prohibited from practicing law in California, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

Deciding the fate of an Orange County lawyer whose license was suspended after he pleaded guilty to having child porn at his home, the court said that keeping sexual images of children constitutes an act of moral turpitude that makes an attorney unfit for the legal profession.

"The knowing possession of child pornography is a serious breach of the duties of respect and care that all adults owe to all children, and it shows such a flagrant disrespect for the law and for societal norms, that continuation of a convicted attorney's State Bar membership would be likely to undermine public confidence in and respect for the legal profession," Justice Carol Corrigan wrote in the opinion.

The unanimous ruling came in the case of Gary Douglass Grant, a former Army lawyer at the Los Alamitos Army Reserve Base in Orange County. Grant pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly possessing child pornography in 2009 after sheriff's deputies found videos and photographs of underage girls mixed in with a large adult pornography collection on his computers and data discs.


A Seattle lawyer who quietly amassed a fortune by investing his inherited family wealth has left a bequest of nearly $188 million to benefit Seattle Children's Hospital, the University of Washington School of Law and the Salvation Army.

Hospital officials said, in announcing Jack MacDonald's bequest Tuesday, that it was the largest charitable gift in Seattle Children's 106-year history. The Law School said it was also the largest gift in its 114-year history.

The three organizations will receive income earned by the trust each year, with 40 percent, or nearly $4 million a year, going to support pediatric research at the hospital in honor of his mother, a long-time hospital volunteer. Thirty percent of the income goes to support student scholarships and other needs at the law school, where he graduated in 1940, in appreciation of his education.

The remaining 30 percent supports the Salvation Army in honor of MacDonald's father, Frederick MacDonald, who owned MacDonald Meat Co. and wanted to help men and women in need.

Jack MacDonald died in September at age 98. He worked for three decades as an attorney for the Veterans Administration in Seattle.



A defense attorney who once had a roster of celebrity clients and boasted of having tried hundreds of cases in federal court was sentenced there on Monday to life in prison without parole after his conviction on nearly two dozen counts including murder conspiracy and racketeering.

Paul Bergrin, in custody since his 2009 arrest, wore khaki prison scrubs and showed little reaction as a judge read what amounted to several life sentences Monday afternoon in a federal courtroom in Newark.

The 57-year-old former federal prosecutor once represented an Army reservist charged in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq and celebrities such as Queen Latifah, the rapper Lil' Kim and the group Naughty By Nature. He also represented reputed gang members and alleged drug kingpins from his offices in Newark.

Bergrin, formerly of Nutley, and several associates were arrested and charged in May 2009 with running his law business as a criminal enterprise. The U.S. attorney's office charged Bergrin with more than 30 counts including racketeering, setting up the murder of a witness, money laundering and drug offenses. His first trial, in which Bergrin represented himself, ended in a hung jury two years ago.

A second trial resulted in his conviction in March on 23 counts related to operating what prosecutors said was a racketeering enterprise that engaged in drug trafficking, prostitution, bribery, plotting to murder witnesses and money laundering.



Celebrated South Carolina lawyer Ron Motley has died at the age of 68, law partner Joe Rice confirmed Thursday.

No cause of death was given for the trial lawyer, and funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Motley served as lead counsel in lawsuits that ultimately yielded the largest civil settlement in U.S. history in which the tobacco industry agreed to reimburse states for smoking-related health care costs.

As part of the Ness Motley firm, he also sued on behalf of asbestos victims and the families of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack victims.

Motley's practice underwent a transformation in 2003 when he and Rice formed the Motley Rice firm. The Mount Pleasant-based practice is one of the largest plaintiffs' firms in the country. The name change was partly because 13 attorneys and about 40 support staff left to form a new firm, Richardson Patrick Westbrook & Brinkman, in 2002.

The family of deceased South Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Julius "Bubba" Ness also sued the firm, saying the Ness portion of the name should be dropped since the practice was no longer connected to the family. Ness' son-in-law, Terry Richardson, was among the lawyers who left to form the new firm.

On Thursday, Richardson remembered Motley _ with whom he practiced for nearly 30 years _ as a tenacious attorney who was a major figure in a time when plaintiffs' law experienced a renaissance.


The Ohio State Bar Association, the state's largest professional organization of lawyers, usually stays above the fray of election politics.

The group, which represents more than 26,000 lawyers and judges, generally keeps to such political activities as reviewing the qualifications of the latest batch of judicial candidates or urging decency when nasty political advertising maligns the legal profession.

But this year was different. For the first time in 25 years, the association waded into a politically heated ballot battle, this time over legislative and congressional redistricting. It had paid $236,000 to a political consultant and $5,000 to a research and communications firm as of late October, state filings showed.

The association's decision to urge opposition to Issue 2 outraged many members, sparking about 200 complaint emails and what amounted to protest votes by some local bar associations.

Critics tie the unusual move in part to the fact OSBA's new president, Hamilton County Appellate Judge Patrick F. Fischer, is also an active politician.

Fischer, a Harvard Law School graduate from Cincinnati, successfully ran for re-election this fall, on the same ballot with the redistricting measure. He also applied Friday for the Ohio Supreme Court seat being vacated by Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton.

That vacancy will be filled by Republican Gov. John Kasich, whose party currently controls the map-making process that Issue 2 sought to overhaul.


A lawyer who was shot eight times outside her Sandy Springs apartment has been released from an Atlanta rehabilitation center.

Family friend Lisa Baker tells The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that 40-year-old Adina Parson was recently released from the Shepherd Center and is now being treated on an outpatient basis.

A Fulton County grand jury has indicted Parson's husband, 43-year-old Michael Darnell Parson, in connection with the April 20 shooting in the community just north of Atlanta.

Michael Parson is being held in the Fulton County Jail without bond. Jail records show that he faces charges including aggravated assault and aggravated battery.

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