In the Matter of Uchechi Okechukwu Nwakanma, Respondent.
PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE Disbarment.
Stanton A. Hazlett, Disciplinary Administrator, argued the
cause and was on the formal complaints for the petitioner.
Respondent did not appear.
an original proceeding in discipline filed by the office of
the Disciplinary Administrator against the respondent,
Uchechi Okechukwu Nwakanma, of Houston, Texas, an attorney
admitted to the practice of law in Kansas in 2003.
October 1, 2013, the office of the Disciplinary Administrator
filed a formal complaint against the respondent alleging
violations of the Kansas Rules of Professional Conduct
(KRPC). The respondent filed an answer on October 23, 2013.
On February 3, 2016, the Disciplinary Administrator filed an
amended formal complaint. After filing a motion for extension
of time to file an answer, which was granted by the panel on
February 25, 2016, respondent filed an amended answer on
March 25 and 28, 2016. Upon motion granted June 27, 2016, the
Disciplinary Administrator amended the formal complaint to
add an allegation that the respondent violated KRPC 3.4 (2017
Kan. S.Ct. R. 345).
hearing was held on the complaint before a panel of the
Kansas Board for Discipline of Attorneys on July 25-29, 2016,
where the respondent appeared in person without counsel.
Because the respondent possesses a Kansas license, the
hearing panel analyzed both Kansas and Texas rules as they
relate to the respondent's misconduct. The hearing panel
determined that respondent violated Texas Disciplinary Rules
of Professional Conduct: 1.01 (competence and diligence);
1.03 (communication); 1.04 (fees); 1.14 (safekeeping
property); 1.15 (declining or terminating representation);
3.04 (fairness in adjudicatory proceedings); 8.01 (bar
admission, reinstatement, and disciplinary matters); and 8.04
(misconduct) and the following Kansas Rules of Professional
Conduct: 1.1 (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 287) (competence); 1.3 (2017
Kan. S.Ct. R. 290) (diligence); 1.4 (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 291)
(communication); 1.5 (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 292) (fees); 1.15
(2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 326) (safekeeping of property); 1.16
(2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 331) (termination of representation); 3.4
(2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 345) (fairness to opposing party and
counsel); 8.1 (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 377) (bar admission and
disciplinary matters); 8.4 (2017 Kan. S.Ct. R. 379)
(misconduct); and Kansas Supreme Court Rule 207 (2017 Kan.
S.Ct. R. 246) (cooperation).
conclusion of the hearing, the panel made the following
findings of fact and conclusions of law, together with its
recommendation to this court:
"Findings of Fact
. . . .
"43. The Kansas Supreme Court admitted the respondent to
the practice of law in the State of Kansas on September 26,
2003. The respondent's license to practice law in Kansas
has been suspended for failing to comply with the annual
requirements on six occasions:
a. On October 8, 2008, the Court entered an order suspending
the respondent's license to practice law for failing to
pay the attorney registration fee and continuing legal
education fee. The Court reinstated the respondent's
license to practice law on October 22, 2008.
b. On October 6, 2009, the Court entered an order suspending
the respondent's license to practice law for failing to
pay the continuing legal education fee. On January 14, 2010,
the Court reinstated the respondent's license to practice
c. On October 18, 2010, the Court entered an order suspending
the respondent's license to practice law for failing to
pay the continuing legal education fee. The Court reinstated
the respondent's license to practice law on October 25,
d. On September 14, 2012, the Court entered an order
suspending the respondent's license to practice law for
failing to fulfill the annual continuing legal education
requirements. On December 18, 2012, the Court reinstated the
respondent's license to practice law.
e. On October 6, 2015, the Court suspended the
respondent's license to practice law for failing to pay
the attorney registration fee and the continuing legal
education fee. The Court issued an order reinstating the
respondent's license to practice law on December 18,
2015. However, the check that the respondent provided to pay
the attorney registration fee and late fees was returned for
insufficient funds. Additionally, the check that the
respondent provided to pay the continuing legal education fee
and late fee was also returned for insufficient funds. During
the hearing, the respondent blamed his nonlawyer assistant
for the suspensions and the submission of bad checks. Shortly
after the amended formal complaint was filed on February 3,
2016, the respondent provided funds to cover the bad checks.
f. On October 6, 2016, the Court suspended the
respondent's license to practice law for failing to pay
the annual attorney registration fee, for failing to comply
with the annual continuing legal education requirements, and
for failing to pay the annual continuing legal education fee.
As of this writing, the respondent's license remains
"44. While the respondent was licensed to practice law
in Kansas, he has never practiced law in Kansas. The
respondent's practice has been exclusively in Houston,
"45. The respondent has never been licensed to practice
law in the state courts of Texas. The respondent took and
failed the Texas bar examination 'about two times.'
"46. Based upon his Kansas license, the respondent was
admitted to practice in the United States District Court for
the District of Kansas, the United States immigration courts,
the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Texas, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit. The current status of the respondent's license
to practice law in every jurisdiction where he has been
admitted is relevant. K.S.A. 60-409(b)(4) provides that
'[j]udicial notice may be taken without request by a
party, of . . . specific facts and propositions of
generalized knowledge which are capable of immediate and
accurate determination by resort to easily accessible sources
of indisputable accuracy.' Additionally, judicial notice
may be taken of matters of public record in other courts or
governmental bodies. See Cities Service Gas Co. v. State
Corporation Commission, 192 Kan. 707, 714, 391 P.2d 74
(1964); Board of County Com'rs of Shawnee County v.
Brookover, 198 Kan. 70, 76, 422 P.2d 906 (1967). The
hearing panel therefore takes judicial notice of the records
of United States District Court for the District of Kansas,
the United States District Court for the Southern District of
Texas, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth
Circuit, as set forth in Documents 84, 85, and 86. Those
a. In 2003, the United States District Court for the District
of Kansas admitted the respondent to the practice of law in
its court. However, since 2003, the respondent has not paid
any registration fees. Accordingly, the United States
District Court for the District of Kansas terminated the
respondent's license to practice in its court in 2004.
b. On December 10, 2015, based on the 2015 suspension of his
Kansas license to practice, the Board of Immigration Appeals
entered an order indefinitely suspending the respondent's
license to practice law in immigration courts. As a result of
the suspension order, the respondent may not practice before
the immigration courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and
all offices of the Department of Homeland Security.
c. The respondent's license  to practice in the United
States District Court for the Southern District of Texas
expired on November 7, 2013.
d. The respondent's license to practice before the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit expired on
February 6, 2011.
"DA11473 - Representation of U.I.
"47. On June 25, 2009, the United States Attorney filed
a criminal complaint against U.I. in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston
Division. Thereafter, on July 23, 2009, a grand jury returned
a criminal indictment against U.I. On October 19, 2009, a
grand jury returned a superseding indictment against U.I. and
on March 25, 2010, a grand jury returned a second superseding
indictment charging U.I. with 55 felony counts of health care
fraud, mail fraud, and money laundering. In the second
superseding indictment it was alleged that U.I. and other
defendants billed Medicare and Medicaid for fraudulent claims
and, as a result, received thirty million dollars.
"48. On July 7, 2009, K.A., U.I.'s business manager,
approached the respondent about representing U.I. in the
criminal case. The respondent agreed to meet with U.I. On
July 8, 2009, the respondent met with U.I. at the Joe Corley
Detention Center. At that time, the respondent had less than
6 years' experience practicing law. Following their
meeting, despite the respondent's inexperience having not
yet tried a jury trial nor handled a Medicare or Medicaid
fraud case, the respondent agreed to represent U.I.
"49. At the hearing on this matter, the respondent
initially testified that he had not tried any jury trials.
Later, he asserted that he had tried one jury trial, however,
he could not remember his client's name, the nature of
the case, or when it was tried. If the respondent had
actually tried one and only one jury trial in his life, the
hearing panel believes that he would have some memory of that
"50. The respondent advised U.I. that the case was
complex and that he intended to associate with other counsel.
The respondent told U.I. that if no other counsel was found
to represent U.I., the respondent's firm would represent
U.I. The respondent told U.I. that he would require a fixed
$3, 000, 000 nonrefundable fee. The respondent told U.I. that
the fee would cover all investigative costs and
attorneys' fees charged by other counsel the respondent
would retain to represent U.I.
"51. On July 9, 2009, the respondent returned to the Joe
Corley Detention Center with a fee contract. The respondent
and U.I. signed the contract. The contract provided, in
pertinent part, as follows:
'3. SCOPE OF REPRESENTATION: Prince & Associates and
Client agree that Prince & Associates will select,
interview and hire suitable Law firms, attorneys,
investigators, and other experts in representing and
defending client in the pending case. Prince & Associates
will associate, coordinate and supervise other lawyers, Law
firms and other entities it hired in reviewing, negotiating,
preparing for trial and in trying said case. If Prince &
Associates is unable to find a suitable law firm or attorneys
to associate with in the litigation of pending matter, Prince
& Associates is allowed to represent client solely and
alone using Prince & Associates in-house attorneys.
'4. FEES: Clients agrees that it will pay Prince &
Associates the sum of $3 million (three million) U.S. dollars
in GOOD AND LAWFUL FUNDS as retainer for representing client
in the pending case. Client agrees and understands that the
fees quoted above are only legal fees, and does not include
ancillary costs, such as the costs of filing fees, long
distance calls, or communications, investigations,
depositions, transcripts, copies, expert witness, etc. Client
agrees that the above fees do not include appeals or costs
associated with appeals, court litigation or services other
than one listed above. Client shall reimburse Prince &
Associates for any expenses incurred in this matter such as
long-distance calls, mailing costs, copying costs, etc
[sic] as applicable. Incase [sic] of
appeal, client understands and agrees that he has the right
to retain any attorney of his choice to appeal his case and
does not have to retain Prince & Associates in his
appeal. However, if client further retains Prince &
Associates for appeal, client agrees that new fees will be
'5. NON-REFUNDABLE FEES: Client agrees that the pending
case has gathered lots of media publicity and it is very
complex. Client agrees that said case will be extremely time
consuming and requires lots of attention. Client further
agrees that in the process of representing client, Prince
& Associates and other attorneys involved in this case
will have to reject potential businesses and clients in order
to give the required attention and time involvement in his
case. Client agrees that he does not want to plead guilty to
the charges on the indictment and that he is authorizing
Prince & Associates in conjunction with other lawyers or
Law firms to prepare his case for trial. Client further
acknowledges that such trial preparation will be time
consuming and may lead to potential economic loss to Prince
& Associates, P.C [sic] and or its associates or
lawyers. Therefore by affixing his signature below, CLIENT
UNDERSTANDS, AGREES AND CONSENTS that the THREE MILLION
DOLLARS retainer fees is NON-REFUNDABLE AND WHOLLY EARNED SO
LONG AS Prince & Associates or in conjunction with other
lawyers and or other Law firms complete the pending matter
with the U.S [sic] District Court for the Southern
District of Texas. However, should Prince & Associates
and or any of his associates, attorneys or other Law firms
Prince & Associates hires to represent client BE
TERMINATED by client in WRITING for any reason prior to the
completion of client's representation or trial, Prince
& Associates, P.C [sic] will bill for the
services it so far rendered at the rate of $500 per hour and
will account and refund any unused or unearned retainer fees
to enable client [sic] hire a different attorney to
complete his case.
'6. NO OBLIGATION TO PAY OTHER LAWYERS: Client
understands and agrees that he has no other obligation to pay
any retainer fees or attorney fees to any other lawyers,
attorneys or Law firms that Prince & Associates has hired
to represent client or to help in the pending matter. Client
consents and agrees that Prince & Associates will share
its retainer fees with these lawyers, attorneys, associates
or Law firms. However, Prince & Associates, P.C
[sic] will not be responsible for any attorney fees
incurred by any other lawyers that Prince & Associates,
P.C [sic] did not hire or select in connection with
the pending case.
. . . .
'10. KEEPING CLIENT INFORMED: Prince & Associates,
P.C [sic] and or its associates will make periodic
visitation to client in detention to keep client informed of
all updates on his case. Upon client's authorization,
Prince & Associates will keep client's families
updated on client's case and will answer any questions
client or his family may have regarding client's
hearing on this matter, the respondent testified that all
expenses were to be paid out of the $3, 000, 000 attorney
fee. The respondent further testified that the provision in
the contract to the contrary was in error.
"52. At some point, U.I. also retained Kenneth Nnaka to
represent him. U.I. and Mr. Nnaka entered into a fee
agreement and U.I. agreed to pay an initial advance fee of
$20, 000. Further, U.I. agreed to pay for subsequent
representation after the initial advanced fee was exhausted.
Mr. Nnaka commenced the representation and U.I. issued a
check in the amount of $10, 000. Mr. Nnaka traveled to
Nigeria on behalf of U.I. to handle U.I.'s business
affairs. Upon Mr. Nnaka's return from Nigeria, U.I.
stopped payment on the $10, 000 and refused to pay Mr. Nnaka
for his time and expenses incurred in traveling to Nigeria on
behalf of U.I. Mr. Nnaka sued. Later, Mr. Nnaka's motion
for summary judgment was granted.
"53. Between July 14, 2009, and February 12, 2010, U.I.
paid the respondent a total of $2, 170, 808.49, as follows:
July 14, 2009
August 11, 2009
September 24, 2009
November 5, 2009
November 12, 2009
February 5, 2010
February 12, 2010
$2, 170, 808.49
There are many references in the record that U.I. paid a
total of $1, 950, 000 to the respondent. However, the
evidence clearly establishes wire transfers from U.I. to the
respondent for a total of $2, 170, 808.49. U.I. did not pay
the balance of the fee agreed to in the fee agreement.
"54. Throughout the representation of U.I., the
respondent met with and interviewed a variety of lawyers and
retained a number of lawyers on behalf of U.I. to assist with
the defense of the criminal charges.
"55. Additionally, while U.I.'s charges were
pending, the respondent assisted U.I. with a variety of
personal matters-including keeping U.I.'s family informed
regarding the status of the case, paying bills for U.I. out
of the attorney fees received by the respondent, permitting
U.I. to make telephone calls to Taiwan and Nigeria from jail
through the respondent's law office, and providing the
various attorneys representing U.I. with information
regarding the nuances of the Nigerian culture. Most of these
services, however, were not included in the scope of the
representation as detailed in the fee agreement. The scope of
the representation was limited to locating attorneys,
coordinating attorneys, providing legal representation, and
updating U.I. and his family regarding the status of the
representation, all in the criminal case.
"56. During the period of time the respondent
represented U.I., the respondent was unable to accept certain
representations. However, the respondent continued to
actively represent many other clients. The respondent
asserted that he was unable to attend to other business
matters. However, it is clear that the respondent continued
to be active in the management of a number of businesses in
which the respondent had an ownership interest.
"57. The respondent made contact with Esteban Pena, a
35-year-old attorney practicing in the same building as the
respondent. The respondent asked Mr. Pena if he had
previously represented defendants in federal criminal
matters. Mr. Pena told the respondent that he had not, but
that he knew an attorney who did have that type of practice.
Mr. Pena recommended that the respondent contact Ralph
"58. The respondent asserted that he hired Mr. Pena to
represent U.I. as part of the defense team. Specifically, the
respondent alleged that he paid Mr. Pena $50, 000 in the form
of a cashier's check for the representation, prior to Mr.
Pena's death from a heart attack. The respondent asserted
that the $50, 000 came from the respondent's personal
funds held in cash in his safe. However, Mr. Pena's
widow, who served as the office manager for Mr. Pena's
solo practice, testified as follows:
'Q. Was-was there an occasion where Mr. Pena referred a
case to Mr. Nwakanma concerning Medicare fraud?
'A. 'Um, he didn't refer the case to Prince,
Prince came to my husband and asked my husband if he did
federal criminal defense. Steven told him he did not, but his
mentor and really good friend, Ralph Martinez, was a really
good attorney that did a lot of federal work. And so he
referred the case. You know, he told him if you need a really
good attorney, this is the person you should hire.
'Q. Do you know if Mr. Martinez took the case?
'A. He did take the case, but it was very briefly. I
think he probably had one court hearing, that I remember-that
I remember of, 'um, which was, like, a bond hearing. And
shortly after Prince didn't want to pay his-his retainer
and he was fired from the case.
'Q. Do you know if Mr. Pena ever went with Mr. Martinez
to go see that client up at the Joe Corley Facility?
'A. Yes, he did. Yes, he did.
'Q. Why did he go with him?
'A. Because Ralph was going to teach him how to do these
'Q. So he was kind of shadowing. Is that-
'A. Exactly. Yes, ma'am.
'Q. Was Mr. Pena hired to work on [U.I.]-was that the
defendant's name, [U.I.], the client?
'A. Yeah. No, ma'am.
'Q. I'm sorry.
'A. He was not hired.
'Q. He was not hired to work on that case?
'A. No. No, ma'am.
'Q. And just for clarification, was [U.I.] the defendant
that had the federal case that we're talking about that
Mr. Prince hired Mr. Martinez on?
'A. Yes, ma'am.
'Q. Okay. And so Mr. Pena was never hired to work on that
case. Is that what you're saying?
'A. No, ma'am.
'Q. Now, Mr. Nwakanma said that he paid Mr. Pena $50, 000
to represent-- or to work on [U.I.]'s case. Is that true?
'A. No, ma'am.
'Q. And how would you know that?
'A. Well, because I dealt with all accounts receivables.
never was an attorney of record, and I doubt that he paid
Steven $50, 000, if he didn't even pay the actual
attorney that he hired to do the case. I think he-I think we
were charging-or Ralph was charging about 40, 000, if I
remember. I don't remember exactly the numbers, but I
think he only paid him 12 to 13, 000, if I remember
correctly. 'Um, Steven was highly embarrassed because he
was the one that recommended Mr. Ralph Martinez to Prince,
okay, and Prince didn't finish paying the retainer.
'Q. If a $50, 000 was paid to Mr. Pena, would you have
known about it?
'Q. Would that have been a lot of money for the Pena
'A. It would have been a lot of money and I wouldn't
have struggled burying my husband September the 4th when he
passed away because I would have had that money in the
Additionally, on cross-examination, Ms. Pena testified:
'Q. Okay. Ma'am, can we establish the fact that you
cannot sit out here and testify you knew everything that
happened in your husband's life?
'A. What I can sit down and testify is that I knew every
penny that came into our practice, because at the end of the
day I took accounting of account receivables, and I was his
wife. Before he took one dime out of any accounts, I already
knew about it.
'Q. So if my secretary testified they give a check
actually to your husband and come to testify. Would that be
'A. I can hear anything, but if you can prove to me that
you give him a $50, 000 check, then I would be extremely
Based upon all the evidence presented, the hearing panel
finds that the respondent did not retain Mr. Pena or pay him
$50, 000 to represent U.I.
"59. Mr. Pena introduced Mr. Martinez to the respondent.
Mr. Martinez agreed to represent U.I. through the complete
resolution of the case for $40, 000. Thereafter, Mr. Martinez
and Mr. Pena met with U.I. in the prison. When they arrived
at the prison to meet with U.I., the respondent was also
present. On September 4, 2009, Mr. Pena suffered a heart
attack and died.
"60. The respondent initially paid Mr. Martinez $10, 000
of the agreed fee.
Later, the respondent paid Mr. Martinez an additional $5,
000. The respondent failed to pay Mr. Martinez any additional
"61. Mr. Martinez represented U.I. at the bond hearing.
In addition to Mr. Martinez, other attorneys that the
respondent had retained for U.I. were also present at the
bond hearing but did not participate in the hearing, as Mr.
Martinez was counsel of record. The court denied the request
for bond and U.I. remained in detention.
"62. U.I. was dissatisfied that he remained in prison
without bond and directed the respondent to replace Mr.
Martinez. The respondent contacted Abraham Fisch. Mr. Fisch
agreed to represent U.I. On behalf of U.I. the respondent
provided Mr. Fisch with a cashier's check in the amount
of $250, 000 for the representation.
"63. By this time, U.I. had expressed some amount of
dissatisfaction with the respondent's services. It
appears that U.I. believed that the respondent was
'cheating' him. In an email message, the respondent
stated that if U.I. continued to feel that same way, the
respondent would be exiting the case immediately. At the
hearing on this matter, the respondent testified that U.I.
was satisfied with the respondent's assistance until he
was convicted at trial. Relying on the respondent's email
message, the hearing panel concludes that the
respondent's testimony in this regard to be false.
"64. After Mr. Fisch was retained to represent U.I., Mr.
Fisch told U.I. that in return for payment of a large fee, an
associate would pay off a government official in Washington,
D.C. Mr. Fisch promised U.I. that the criminal charges would
"65. In November 2009, U.I. deposited a total of $1,
300, 854.49 into the respondent's attorney trust account.
See ¶ 53, above. If U.I. is to be believed, the
$1, 300, 854.49 was to be used to pay off the governmental
official to obtain a dismissal of the charges against U.I.
"66. Thereafter, Mr. Fisch called Mr. Martinez and
informed him that he had been retained to represent U.I.
Then, Mr. Martinez called the respondent and the respondent
told Mr. Martinez that his services were no longer needed.
Mr. Martinez told the respondent that only U.I. could
terminate the representation. Mr. Martinez traveled to the
prison and met with U.I. U.I. terminated Mr. Martinez'
"67. Following his meeting with U.I. in prison, on
December 4, 2009, Mr. Martinez filed a motion to withdraw
from the representation of U.I. On December 15, 2009, the
court granted Mr. Martinez' motion to withdraw. Mr.
Martinez provided his file to Mr. Fisch.
"68. When Mr. Fisch was also unable to get U.I. released
from prison, U.I. became dissatisfied with Mr. Fisch's
representation. The respondent continued to look for other
attorneys to represent U.I.
"69. As an aside, Mr. Fisch also made similar promises
to other individuals facing criminal charges. Later, Mr.
Fisch was charged with obstruction of justice, money
laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and
failure to file tax returns. Mr. Fisch was convicted and
sentenced to prison.
"70. Ultimately, in February 2011, the respondent
retained Dick Deguerin and Sean Buckley to represent U.I. Mr.
Deguerin had extensive experience in Medicare and Medicaid
fraud defense. Additionally, Mr. Buckley had significant
experience representing federal criminal defendants, having
represented criminal defendants in approximately 20 federal
criminal jury trials.
"71. Mr. Deguerin's fee letter, read, understood,
and agreed to in writing by U.I., provided:
'You have asked that I represent you in a federal
indictment alleging health care fraud in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston
Division. We have agreed upon a non-refundable contract fee
of $250, 000 for me to handle your case. This fee does not
include the cost of out-of-pocket expenses, and we have
agreed that you will provide a $100, 000 deposit through
attorney Prince Uche Nwakanma, for out-of-pocket expenses. I
will continue to associate Attorney Prince Uche Nwakanma, to
assist with your defense, but you will be responsible for his
. . . .
'When I say that I will "handle your case, " I
mean that I will represent you once through the trial court
level of this case, including post-verdict motions if and
when they are necessary. . . .
. . . .
'Normally, I require that my contract fee and the expense
deposit be paid in full before I begin my representation.
However, given that I sympathize with your financial
situation and trust you, I am making a very rare exception.
You and I have agreed to the following payment arrangements:
You have paid $200, 000 of the fee now, and upon receipt of
that payment I am immediately beginning work on your case.
The remainder of the fee, plus the expense deposit, must be
paid within 45 days from the date of this letter. If the
remaining fee and expense deposit are not timely paid, I
reserve the right to keep all money paid me and to either
withdraw from your case or to reassign it to another lawyer
within my firm.'
When Mr. Deguerin calculated the fee, Mr. Deguerin and Mr.
Buckley anticipated that U.I.'s trial may last a month.
The respondent paid $200, 000 on behalf of U.I. to Mr.
Deguerin out of the monies received from U.I. Neither the
respondent nor U.I. paid Mr. Deguerin any additional fees nor
did they pay the $100, 000 expense deposit.
"72. Because the respondent did not pay Mr.
Deguerin's total fee, Mr. Buckley, took over U.I.'s
representation. While Mr. Buckley relied on the respondent to
explain the cultural nuances of the Nigerian community and to
assist Mr. Buckley in interfacing with witnesses in the
Nigerian community, Mr. Buckley did not anticipate, need, or
rely on any assistance from the respondent in representing
"73. On September 14, 2010, U.I. wrote to the
respondent. In the letter, U.I. stated:
'It's [sic] about 3 months you've failed
to visit or keep in-touch with me over the phone. Last time
we spoke on the phone was last June 23th [sic]
2010-night; reference to the scheduled court case on
06/24/10. And your answer to that was "you didn't
'There are a couple of reasons I'm writing this
letter to you and it's absolutely important that you
respond to it A.S.A.P.
'1, I will very much like to know about the pending case
between Kenneth Nnaka, Attorney at Law-Plaintiff Vs. [U.I.]
'2, in reference to our continuous discussion last time
you visited me here at Joe Corley Detention Facility,
regarding [ ] of my legal money in your possession. I will
very much like to get a certified receipt of how the money
($1.3m) One million three hundred thousand dollars was
disbursed between Mr. Lloyd Williams and Abraham Fisch.
Alternatively, [ ] will like to see all bank payment receipts
showing how the total amount was disbursed in order to
determine what line [ ] action to take in recovering the
total balance of my money with you as the retained
supervising/organiser [sic] of my pending alleged
health care fraud case.
'3, I am also requesting for copies of all
correspondences [sic] regarding all efforts made in
recovering the total amount paid to both Mr. Lloyd Williams
and Mr. Abraham Fisch [sic]
'Thanks for your continuous co-operation and
'I expect to see or read from you soon.'
The respondent denied receiving this letter and asserted that
U.I. 'made up' the letter. As detailed in ¶
160(b), the hearing panel finds that the respondent's
testimony in this regard lacks credibility.
"74. The jury trial was held in May 2011. On May 27,
2011, the jury unanimously found U.I. guilty of 48 felony
crimes. At the sentencing hearing, held in October 2011, the
court sentenced U.I. to prison for 327 months. The court
ordered U.I. to pay restitution of $27, 189, 349.76 to
Medicare and $3, 027, 242.39 to Medicaid.
"75. On August 30, 2011, U.I. wrote to the respondent.
That letter provided:
'It's been a while we haven't spoken, I hope all
is well with you, family and business. The stressful three
weeks trial has come and gone in favor of the government.
Since then I have been expecting to see or hear from you, but
to no avail.
'Thank you so much for the ($5, 000.00) five thousand
dollars released to my son  for my daughter  school fees.
'Now let me start with the issue we both seem to get
somewhat excited. First, I would like you to take a deep
breath with your eyes closed in a private place, try
meditating believing you are standing before our Heavenly
Father God as a Christian (Head of family) in need with
family "wife and children" to be specific. As you
gently open your eyes, try recalling how it all began.
'I had previously on 09/14/2010 written to you requesting
for a clear and detailed accounting statements of my legal
fund in your custody, but as at this day you have not been
able to furnish me with the statement and of course, showing
the balance due to me. It is absolutely against the law.
While I patiently wait for your early response to that
effect, I like to remind not to deviate from your early
promise of going to maintain payments of my house mortgage as
well as the children's school fees and expenses.
Essentially, the children needs a place they can recline
after a hard days toil which has become part of life
everywhere in the world- especially in the case of my poor
children whose father has been incarcerated for over 2 years
now. You can imagine the mental anguish the situation is
'In my other case also, let me take it a little
backward-if you can recall. Sometime (2006) I retained
you/your law firm as my immigration Attorney, I was working
with you (Your Law Firm) regarding changing to my status
citizenship which didn't end up well for laxity of
follow-ups interview from your office, and not for nonpayment
of the services as I paid you complete. But  that never
baized [sic] or impacted my mind in accepting
[K.A.]'s choice of appointing you to manage/assist with
finding a solution to my legal problems. I accepted his
approval of you to handle the responsibilities without any
doubt. Therefore, I pose question to you "what did I do
wrong to warrent [sic] your nonchallant
[sic] attitude." For over two years I have been
incarcerated I have not been getting money from anywhere, and
business I was about to establish in Nigeria before my case
started is now stranded for nonavailable funds to back it up
[sic] Any moment from now, my kids may be ejected or
facing foreclosure problem and I requested you to back up on
[sic] regular basis payment of the mortgage until
accounting statements of my legal fund in your custody is
reconciled. Knowing full well the amount of my money
still in your possession will definitely take care of my
mortgage without one problem.
'Prince, while I'm waiting patiently believing that
you will as a Christian have enough time to rebuild what you
intentionally did to me and my family, outside the scope of
your practice as a lincense [sic] Attorney.
'I pray every day that Almighty God will guide and
protect us, so as to end up the same way we started without a
'Extend my sincere greetings to you beloved wife and
children. Expecting to see you at Joe Corley Detention
Facility soon. Thanks for your co-operation and
The respondent, again, asserted that he did not receive this
letter because U.I. 'made up' the letter.
"76. On November 9, 2011, Tola Oresusi, an attorney
retained by U.I. Wrote to the respondent regarding their
mutual client, U.I. The letter provided:
'I write with respect to our clients [U.I.] & Family,
who have retained the undersigned law firm to prosecute their
complaint and cause of action regarding the above referenced
matter. This letter constitutes our clients' third
written request and demand form [sic] you for an
accounting and return of money transferred to you in trust by
[U.I.] The total amount you are to account for is $1.95
million, U.S. dollars. This is the last formal notice of
complaint and demand for return of money pursuant to the
Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Please direct any and
all communications, be they written or oral, about this
matter to my attention. Please do not contact any of
our clients, [U.I. and his] family.
'On numerous occasions, our clients have made attempts to
resolve this matter with you but you have not been
forthcoming, notwithstanding many promises made to fully
refund the money left in trust with you.
'[U.I.] allegedly signed a contract with you but you have
refused to give him a copy of that contract in violation of
your ethical obligations. You also wrote bounced checks to
the family from your IOLTA account, which in itself is a
conduct unbecoming of any attorney licensed in any state in
'The above complaint shows your breach of fiduciary
duties to our clients. The complaint further constitutes
misrepresentation, fraud and breach of the trust both at
common law and under Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
'Our clients wish to settle this matter amicably and
request that you do the following:
1. If you desire to resolve this matter, please contact this
office within sixty (20) [sic] days of your receipt
of this letter, so we might avoid unnecessary time, expense
and additional attorney fees in litigating this matter.
2. If this matter is unresolved within sixty (60) days form
[sic] the date you receive this letter, our clients
have instructed us to file a lawsuit against you. We shall
have claims against you both at common law and under the
Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. We shall seek the
maximum damages allowed by law against you, plus
attorney's fees and costs of court.
3. Attorney's fees, for this type of case, could be very
'It is the intention of our clients and this firm that no
binding settlement exists until any proposal and acceptance
are both (i) reduced to a written settlement agreement
approved by all parties to the settlement, and (ii) signed by
all parties for which the settlement agreement contemplates
signature, until all conditions or events requested by the
settlement agreement are fully satisfied.
'Please contact the undersigned attorney at your earliest
convenience so that we may discuss this matter. If I do not
hear from you within the next sixty (20) [sic] days,
I will assume that you do not wish to settle this matter out
"77. On November 14, 2011, the respondent sent Mr.
Oresusi a message. The message provided:
'This is to advise you that I am in receipt of your
letter dated 11-11-2011 wherein you are demanding for
"return of money in trust" for [U.I.] family.
According to your letter, you claimed that [U.I.] paid the
sum of $1.95 million U.S. dollars for his representation and
wanted a return of said money.
'I decided to write to explain a little bit more so that
you can have a better picture of the issues involved here. As
I stated, your client may have misrepresented the actual
amount he paid to our firm to you. Also, we are not denying
the funds he paid to us but it is our contention that we do
not owe your client any monies or that the funds he paid to
us was for any trust accounts. Instead, our records show he
signed a non refundable retainer contract of 3 million U.S.
dollars and did not even comply fully with the payment terms
as agreed by both parties yet we completed the entire
representation even though we lost. During your client's
representation, we hired and paid other law firms large sums
of money with the consent of your client to help in defending
his matter. Our law firm lost so much money as we could not
take other major cases due to the nature of your client's
criminal charges. This case needed lots of attention and time
involvement that my firm was basically shot [sic]
down. We worked days, weekends, and nights. Your client clog
[sic] our office and personal telephone lines with
excessive calls from jail and excessive demands for oversee
[sic] telephone connections and discussions. We paid
huge amounts in phone bills as a result. We deposited so much
money into your client's jail accounts for his personal
use as he requested and we gave so much money for your
client's children' [sic] school fees, school
housing and mortgages. I even co-signed the housing agreement
for your client's daughter. Just about 2 weeks ago, I
gave his son $10, 000 to pay for your client's mortgages.
I initially figured out that your client's case will be
so involving [sic] that I explained this to him
which he agreed to before he signed the non-refundable
agreement. Counsel, I simply do not know where to start and
where to end and I am glad I have so many witnesses ranging
from attorneys, office staff, that will testify. And this
representation went on for over TWO YEARS.
'Also, be aware that your client was convicted of 55
criminal count [sic] fraud indictment involving
about $30 million dollars the government claimed he stole
from medicare and medicaid. Your client was sentenced to
about 27 years imprisonment as a result. It appears that U.S.
Government either has a lien or will have a lien on your
client's recoverable property and has already garnished
some of your client's assets. Therefore any settlement
will be going to U.S. government instead.
'Furthermore, It [sic] just came to my knowledge
that your client still has major assets hidden in Nigeria
which were acquired with portions of this money and I will
encourage you as a lawyer and a Judge (as you claimed) to
advise your client to disclose all these assets to the U.S.
government immediately. I have already advised his son to
have his father disclose these assets to U.S. government. Now
I am glad you are his current lawyer and I know you will help
in this. I am willing to disclose the source of my
information and to work with you to formally advise the U.S.
government about your client's hidden assets in Nigeria
if you need my help. He has banks or some financially
[sic] institutions in Nigeria that may be part of
this as well. Additionally, you have indicated you will file
a lawsuit to recover the alleged funds (if any), please when
you do, make sure U.S. government's interest is protected
in the lawsuit as well because if the court determines there
are still monies owed to your client, I will make payment
arrangements with U.S. governments and make sure the funds go
to the U.S. treasury as the rightful recipients of such
'Your letter appear [sic] highly threatening and
you made it worse when you further stated to me this morning
over the phone that you are a Judge and has [sic]
practiced for over 20 years and that I will see what you will
do. I am taking this matter very serious as well and will
refer this case to my defense team for handling if we could
[sic] not resolve this amicably. However, if it is
your intension [sic] for us to sit down and discuss
this matter amicably and to find better [sic]
solution in lieu of possible litigation, I am open to that
and if you let me know, I will arrange a meeting. But
contrary to your client's assertion, the money he paid
was not for any trust. It is for legal fees which was
non-refundable due to the nature of his case and the fees
were earned. Also, he did receive a copy of the contract he
signed with me. But if you decide for us to meet, I will give
you another copy and also give you a run down account of the
expenses.' (Emphasis added.)
"78. Also on November 14, 2011, U.I. filed a complaint
against the respondent with the disciplinary administrator.
"79. On April 30, 2012, the respondent forwarded a
written response to U.I.'s complaint. Included in the
respondent's written response was a summary of services
rendered as well as a summary of expenses. The
respondent's written response to the complaint as well as
the summary of services rendered and summary of expenses
contains many false statements. See ¶ 157,
"80. On May 8, 2012, the respondent forwarded a letter
to Mr. Oresusi. In the letter, the respondent asserted that
U.I. continued to owe the respondent 'a large sum of
money.' The respondent attached the summary of services
rendered and a summary of expenses to the letter to Mr.
"81. On June 4, 2012, U.I. filed a petition against the
respondent, alleging breach of contract, conversion, breach
of fiduciary duties, misrepresentation, fraud, and deceptive
trade practices in Harris County District Court, case number
2012-32324, for the respondent's failure to account for
the monies paid by U.I. On May 14, 2013, the court granted
the respondent's motion for summary judgment. On August
14, 2013, U.I. filed an appeal to the order granting the
respondent summary judgment.
"82. Thereafter, on February 13, 2014, and shortly
before the disciplinary administrator and counsel for the
respondent were scheduled to travel to South Carolina to take
U.I.'s deposition while he was housed in FCI Estille, the
respondent and U.I. entered a settlement and release
agreement, which provided:
'THE SETTLEMENT AND RELEASE AGREEMENT is made by and
between Mr. [U.I.] and Attorney Prince Uchechi Nwakanma
(Attorney), whom collectively are referred to as PARTIES.
This Agreement covers all claims and disputes, whether or no
[sic] such claims are now pending or have not been
asserted between the PARTIES arising from or related to
Attorney's representation of [U.I.] in Case No: H-09-426,
United States of America v [U.I.], which was pending in the
United States District Court for the Southern District of
Texas and was resolved by a judgment entered on October 21,
'[U.I.] as used herein refers to and includes his heirs,
representatives, agents, and all individuals or entities who
had or have standing to assert a claim on his behalf.
Specifically, it includes his son , to whom [U.I.] has
granted a General Power of Attorney and his present attorney
of record, Attorney Tola Oresusi.
'Attorney as used herein refers to and includes his
heirs, his law firm, or any other entity owned by Attorney or
in which Attorney has or may acquire an interest, and which
may potentially be exposed to liability arising from or
related to the subject matter of this Agreement.
'THE PARTIES REPRESENT AND AGREE AS FOLLOWS:
'1. The PARTIES represent that they are adults, competent
in all respects to enter this Agreement and do so, with the
advice and consent of their respective independent counsel.
'2. [U.I.] represents that the funds expended by him for
his defense of the case against him in the U.S. District
Court was a bank loan advanced to him.
'3. [U.I.] has, subsequent to the judgment of the U.S.
District Court for the Southern District of Texas, initiated
a lawsuit against Attorney in Harris County, Texas. At the
present time, [U.I.] is appealing a FINAL TRIAL COURT
JUDGMENT in favor of Attorney, in connection with this
'4. [U.I.] also initiated a Disciplinary Complaint
against Attorney with the State Bar of Kansas, which is
presently pending, DA11, 473.
'5. Attorney does not admit any liability for any or all
of the claims of [U.I.] in any fora.
'6. The PARTIES have agreed to and now resolve any and
every dispute within the scope of this Agreement on the
a. Attorney shall pay [U.I.] or his heirs, the sum of four
hundred and twenty five thousand U.S. dollars (US $ 425k) for
the final, full, and complete settlement of all claims within
the scope of this Agreement and this payment is to be
utilized to repay portions of the bank loan(s) which was
obtained for [U.I.]'s legal fees.
b. [U.I.] shall DISMISS with PREJUDICE his pending appeal in
Texas, and shall send a letter to the Kansas State Bar
notifying the Bar that he has resolved all claims with
Attorney, and shall no longer participate in any related
proceeding. A sample of said letter shall be attached hereto
and is herein incorporated by reference as part of this
Agreement; c. The sequence of events related to the
implementation of this Settlement Agreement shall be as
follows: Attorney shall purchase two bank drafts of $100K
each made out in the name of Attorney Tola Oresusi and
[U.I.'s son] as Agent in Fact of [U.I.]; and shall also
issued [sic] checks payable to the same persons in
amounts of not less than $10K for the balance of the $225K.
The first check and subsequent checks shall be due and
payable on the last day of the month following the date on
which the Kansas Disciplinary Action is terminated, or the
last day of the month after the State Bar of Kansas
acknowledges [U.I.]'s intent to dismiss the Kansas
Proceedings, whichever occurs first in time.
d. [U.I.] and his agents shall prepare for filing a Motion to
Abate in the Court of Appeals and a SIGNED COPY of the Kansas
e. All of the bank drafts, payment checks, Motion to Abate
and Dismissal Letter shall be delivered to Mr. James
Okorafor. Upon confirmation of the filing of the Motion to
Abate in the Court of Appeals and mailing of the Dismissal
Letter to Kansas, the first $100k draft shall be delivered to
Attorney Tola Oresusi. Upon confirmation or receipt of a
letter of Termination of the Kansas Proceedings or of
[U.I.]'s Dismissal Letter of the Kansas Proceedings by
the State Bar of Kansas, the second $100k draft and ALL the
payment checks shall be delivered to Attorney Tola Oresusi,
who shall then file a Motion to Dismiss with Prejudice any
[sic] Court of Appeals, Houston, Texas.
f. In the event, the State Bar of Kansas proceeds with the
Disciplinary Complaint after its receipt and acknowledgment
of [U.I.]'s Dismissal Letter, [U.I.] and\or his
representatives shall give attorney a sworn statement
attesting to the fact that Attorney does NOT owe [U.I.] any
money in relating to the complaint and that [U.I.] does not
expect any restitution to be paid to him.
g. Attorney also agrees to help [U.I.] and his family to
recover an over payment of $75k in attorney's fees to
Attorney Dick Deguerin of Houston, Texas by providing a sworn
statement to [U.I.] confirming the amount Attorney Dick
Deguerin promised to charge [U.I.] if he himself tried the
case as against if an associates [sic] of his tried
'7. Attorney agrees that as liquidated damage for any
check(s) not negotiable on the due date, he shall pay an
additional $25.00 per day, until fully paid.
'8. [U.I.] agrees to indemnify, defend, and hold harmless
Attorney for any and all losses, claims, demands, causes of
action, and any judgments, fees, expenses, cost of any nature
whatsoever paid and incurred as a result of or arising within
the scope of this Agreement.
'9. The PARTIES agree and understand that this Agreement
constitutes a FINAL and complete settlement, release, payment
in full, and accord and satisfaction of ...