In the Matter of Pamela J. Thompson, Respondent.
Original proceeding in discipline.
Matthew D. Franzenburg, Deputy Disciplinary Administrator,
argued the cause, and Stanton A. Hazlett, Disciplinary
Administrator, was with him on the formal complaint for the
J. Ambrosio, of Morris, Laing, Evans, Brock & Kennedy,
Chtd., of Topeka, argued the cause, and Pamela J. Thompson,
respondent, argued the cause pro se.
ORIGINAL PROCEEDING IN DISCIPLINE
an original proceeding in discipline filed by the office of
the Disciplinary Administrator against the respondent, Pamela
J. Thompson, of Wichita, an attorney admitted to the practice
of law in Kansas in 1985.
October 3, 2018, 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 a timely answer to the complaint
on October 16, 2018. A hearing was held on the complaint
before a panel of the Kansas Board for Discipline of
Attorneys on December 4, 2018, where the respondent was
personally present and was represented by counsel. The
hearing panel determined the respondent violated KRPC 1.15
(2019 Kan. S.Ct. R. 334) (safekeeping property); 8.4(c) (2019
Kan. S.Ct. R. 387) (engaging in conduct involving dishonesty,
fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation); and 8.4(d) (engaging in
conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice).
the hearing, the panel made the following findings of fact
and conclusions of law, together with its recommendation to
In late 2015, the respondent hired Qualified Plan Solutions
(hereinafter 'QPS') to provide administrative
services for 401(k) retirement accounts pursuant to a
retirement plan established for the respondent and her
employees. The respondent was the plan's administrator
and trustee. The respondent and her employees, Jackie
Brewster and Lora Manny, chose to participate in the plan. By
participating, the respondent and her employees agreed to
have a portion of their compensation deferred from their
paychecks and deposited into the plan account. According to
the plan, the respondent was to deposit the salary deferrals
into the 401(k) retirement account within seven days. In
November, 2015, the respondent approved and signed the plan
as the administrator and trustee. The plan went into effect
January 1, 2016.
Beginning January 1, 2016, the respondent withheld funds from
her paycheck and from her employees' paychecks. The
respondent, however, did not deposit the salary deferrals as
required by the plan. The respondent timely deposited the
salary deferrals on only one occasion in 2016.
a. The respondent failed to deposit any salary deferrals from
January 22, 2016, through July 8, 2016. On July 20, 2016, the
respondent made a deposit in an effort to make the 401(k)
b. The respondent failed to deposit any salary deferrals from
July 22, 2016, through December 23, 2016.
On February 7, 2017, Ms. Brewster and Ms. Manny noticed that
their 401(k) accounts were underfunded. In 2016, the
respondent withheld $1, 653.08 from Ms. Brewster's
paychecks in 2016, but deposited less than $800.
Ms. Manny called Seth Asher, her financial advisor. The
respondent overheard Ms. Manny's phone call with Mr.
Asher. The respondent said to Ms. Manny, 'don't
involve him in this, you'll get me in trouble.'
On February 8, 2017, Ms. Manny contacted the Kansas
Department of Labor regarding the underfunding of the 401(k)
accounts. Within an hour of Ms. Manny's phone call, a
Kansas Department of Labor employee called the respondent by
At some point in time, the respondent contacted her
accountant, Sandra Worsham who is also the respondent's
cousin, for assistance in resolving the issue with the salary
deferrals. Ms. Worsham was able to determine what the
respondent needed to deposit to become current.
In addition to contacting Ms. Worsham, in February, 2017, the
respondent also contacted Nick Nowak of QPS to assist the
respondent with calculating the amount of the deposit the
respondent needed to make to bring the accounts current. The
amount included both the salary deferrals and the interest
lost as a result of the late payments.
In mid-February, 2017, the respondent deposited funds in the
three 401(k) accounts and brought them current, using a
portion of the money converted as described in ¶¶
On February 16, 2017, the respondent told Ms. Brewster and
Ms. Manny that she had failed to deposit the amounts which
had been withheld from their paychecks into their 401(k)
accounts. The respondent apologized to her employees.
Ms. Brewster told the respondent that her husband was an
accountant and he wanted to talk to the respondent about the
401(k) issue. The respondent told Ms. Brewster that if that
happened, Ms. Brewster would no longer be working in the
On February 17, 2017, Ms. Brewster filed a complaint with the
disciplinary administrator's office against the
respondent. During the disciplinary investigation, the
respondent admitted that she failed to make timely payments
to the 401(k) accounts.
In order to ensure that the respondent does not again fail to
make the proper deposits, the respondent made arrangements
with Ms. Worsham to visit the respondent's office at
least once a month to assist in all accounting matters
relating to the 401(k) accounts.
On March 10, 2017, Ms. Worsham signed a verification that the
respondent had deposited the proper amounts in the 401(k)
During the investigation of DA12768, Ms. Manny advised the
disciplinary administrator's auditor, Larry Pfannenstiel,
that the respondent paid herself fees in two estate cases
without first obtaining a court order. Ms. Manny also told
Mr. Pfannenstiel that the two estate files were missing from
The respondent drafted E.I.'s will. In the will, the
respondent named herself as the successor executor. Following
E.I.'s death, on October 27, 2016, a court appointed the
respondent to serve as the executor for the estate of E.I.
The respondent also served as the attorney for the estate.
The estate had a total value of $72, 102.35. While the estate
of E.I. was pending, and during the period of one week, the
respondent converted $30, 365.85 of the estate proceeds, as
a. Check 1001, dated February 14, 2017, was made payable to
Pamela Thompson, in the amount of 4, 865.85. In the memo
line, the respondent wrote 'attorney fees.' The
respondent deposited the funds into her operating account.
The respondent, however, never sought nor received court
approval to pay herself attorney fees from the estate
b. Check 1002, dated February 16, 2017, was made payable to
Pamela Thompson, in the amount of $8, 250. In the memo line,
the respondent wrote '. . . ordered.' The respondent
deposited the funds into her operating account. The court did
not order this disbursement from the estate account.
c. Check 1003, dated February 16, 2017, was made payable to
Pamela Thompson, in the amount of $17, 250. In the memo line,
the respondent wrote 'to Trust for distribution.' The
respondent deposited this check into her attorney trust
account on February 17, 2017. On February 21, the respondent
wrote herself a check out of her trust account in the amount
of $17, 250 and in the memo line wrote 'attorney
fees.' The respondent never sought nor received court
approval to pay herself attorney fees from the estate
The respondent improperly used these funds for payment of
payroll and other expenses related to her law office.
Specifically, the respondent used a portion of the funds
converted to make the deposits necessary to bring her 401(k)
account current and to bring her employees' accounts
current. See ¶ 15, above.
On May 10, 2017, the respondent replaced $25, 500 of the
funds she converted by depositing funds ...